FoodHACCP Newsletter
08/18 2014 ISSUE:613

Salmonella Outbreak is 4th in 4 Years for Mail Order Hatchery
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By Carla Gillespie (Aug 17, 2014)
A Salmonella outbreak that has sickened at least 300 people in 42 states and Puerto Rico is the fourth in four years to be linked to Mt. Healthy Hatcheries, a mail order hatchery in Ohio. In each of the outbreaks, many of those sickened have been children under ten.  Two people died.
Mt Healthy Hatchery Salmonella OutbreakAll of the outbreaks included multiple strains. An all of them had large numbers of sick children. So far, seven strains of Salmonella have been identified in outbreaks linked to the mail order chicks and ducks. The current outbreak has three strains:  Salmonella Infantis, Salmonella Newport and Salmonella Hadar. About 37 percent of the cases are children or younger.
In 2013, 158 people in 30 states were sickened by four strains: Salmonella Infantis, Salmonella Lille, Salmonella Newport and Salmonella Mbandaka. Forty one percent of those case patients were children.
In 2012, 195 people in 27 states were sickened by three strains: Salmonella Infantis, Salmonella Lille, and Salmonella Newport. Thirty three percent were children. Two deaths were reported.
In 2011, 96 illnesses in 25 states were reported. Thirty one percent of the case patients were 5 and under. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) referred to the source of this outbreak as “a mail order hatchery in Ohio,” but the Ohio Departments of Health and Agriculture named Mt Healthy as that hatchery.
Contact a Salmonella LawyerTo keep kids safe while maintaining backyard flocks, the CDC recommends that live poultry and any items used to care for the birds remain outside. Those caring for flocks should wash hands thoroughly after handling or feeding the birds.  Children should not cuddle or kiss the birds. Children 5 and up should be supervised during contact with the birds and during hand washing. And children under five should have no contact with the animals.

Minnesota E. coli Investigators Solve Two Outbreaks In One Month
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By News Desk (Aug 17, 2014)
Minnesota epidemiologists have solved a pair of unrelated E. coli outbreaks in the span of a month, first linking Applebees restaurants in the state to infections of E. coli O111 and then proving that a traveling petting zoo put seven people in the hospital. The agency responsible for the disease sleuthing is the Minnesota Department of Health.
“Without a doubt the Minnesota Department of Health stopped these outbreaks before other people could become infected,” Minneapolis-based E. coli lawyer Fred Pritzker said. “They provide an invaluable public service.”
2014-Minnesota-E.-coli-LawyIn the most recent outbreak, Zerebko Zoo Tran traveling petting zoo withheld its animals from the last two county fairs at which it was scheduled to exhibit in August, according to a health department news release. The Minnesota petting zoo was implicated in early August in the E. coli O157:H7 illnesses of 13 people, including seven who were hospitalized. Two of the most severely injured fought kidney failure and other health deficits caused by a complication of toxic E. coli infection known as hemolytic uremic syndrome, or HUS.
According to public records, the E. coli outbreak started early in July at an annual 4th of July festival in Nashwauk, Minnesota. The zoo made its next stops at the Polk County Fair, Rice County Fair in Faribault and Olmsted County Fair in Rochester. The Health Department recognized the pattern of illnesses and used genetic fingerprinting techniques to identify E. coli O157:H7 in fecal samples and environmental swabs from Zerebko Zoo Tran. The prints perfectly matched the type of E. coli that had made so many people sick, including at least one child who was only 2 years old.
“These illnesses are a stark reminder that E. coli O157:H7 can be present in even the cleanest of animal operations,” said Minnesota State Public Health Veterinarian Dr. Joni Scheftel.
Contact an E coli Lawyer - Free Case EvaluationThe petting zoo E. coli outbreak was announced just one month after health department employees traced an outbreak of E. coli O111 to nine Applebees locations across the state. The Minnesota operator of Applebees temporarily withdrew Oriental Chicken Salad from its menus and switched suppliers of certain ingredients as a result of the probe. Within days of the public disclosure, the Pritzker law firm filed a Minnesota E. coli lawsuit on behalf of a young man who fell sick with a painful E. coli infection after eating Oriental Chicken Salad at the Applebees in Woodbury, Minnesota. It was the first lawsuit in the outbreak and it is being litigated in United States District Count. The law firm is continuing to sign up additional clients who were case patients in the outbreak.

Cyclospora in Texas Sickens 164
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By Carla Gillespie (Aug 16, 2014)
At least 164 people in Texas have Cyclopora infections, according to the latest update from the Texas Department of State Health Services. An increase in cases of cyclosporiasis has been reported from counties all over the state since mid-June. Dallas county has been hit hardest with 35 cases, Tarrant has reported 18, Harris has 13, Bexar and Collin both have 11. These counties include San Antonio and the Dallas-Ft. Worth metropolitan area.
By county, the cases are as follows: Aransas 1, Bexar 11, Camp 2, Collin 11, Comal 3, Dallas 35, Denton 8, El Paso 1, Ellis 4, Erath 3, Fort Bend 2, Galveston 1, Gonzales 1, Harris 13, Hays 1, Hidalgo 1, Hood 1, Hunt 1, Jefferson 1, Johnson 2, Kaufman 3, Kendall 1, Lee 1, Lynn 1, McLennan 1, Montgomery 2, Navarro 1, Nueces 2, Parker 2, Rockwall 2, San Patricio 2, Somervell 1, Sutton 1, Tarrant 18, Travis 6, Trinity 1, Webb 1, Williamson 4,  and Wise 1. Ten additional cases are pending or from unknown counties.
A food source for the outbreak has not yet been determined. Last year, a cyclospora outbreak in Texas sickened more than 270 people. The food source for many of those cases was identified as cilantro imported from Mexico that was served at restaurants and sold at a grocery store. The names of those establishments were never released.
Cyclosporiasis symptoms can last up to two months and include diarrhea that is often frequent, watery or explosive,  abdominal cramping, bloating, gas, nausea, fatigue, loss of appetite and weight loss. Symptoms such as vomiting, body aches, low-grade fever are also possible. The infection is normally treated with trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole, also known as Bactrim, Septra, or Cotrim. Sulfamethoxazole is a sulfa drug and those with allergies to sulfa cannot take it.




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Jim-N-Jo’s Northland Katering A Link in Fond du Lac Reservation E. coli Outbreak
Source :
By Bill Marler (Aug 16, 2014)
Wendy Johnson of the Pine Journal broke the link to the E. coli outbreak that has sickened dozens at three events on the Fond du Lac Reservation in July.  According to Ms. Johnson. “[a]ll signs point to the potato salad — or more likely one of the raw ingredients that goes into it — as being the cause of the E. coli outbreak that sickened some 60 people.”  According Doug Schultz, spokesperson for the Minnesota Department of Health, on Wednesday, the investigation has revealed that the illness came from three separate events, the Elders’ Picnic, a private wedding and a three-day conference. All were held on the reservation between the dates of July 11-16, and all were catered by the same entity.
Karen Diver, chairwoman of the Fond du Lac Band, confirmed the Band did use a caterer for the events, but without the investigation yet identifying a confirmed source, she added, “I do not feel comfortable naming them.”
We have learned that entity is Jim-N-Jo’s Northland Katering.
Ms. Johnson interviewed my client and Fond du Lac band member Robert Danielson, 62.  His description of a typical E. coli infection should clearly dispel any thought that it is “just a tummy ache.”
“I never take medications and I once pulled two of my own teeth, sewed myself up after I cut myself with an ax and toughed out a broken bone,” he related. “I’ve always prided myself on not being a crybaby.”
But early last month, Danielson found himself up against something bigger than he was — E. coli poisoning.
“I’ve experienced a lot of things in my day,” he admitted, “but this one was more than words can say. I truly believed that if it continued, I was going to die.”

Food Safety: Peanuts Shipped With False Safety Documents
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By Amy Gilmore (Aug 15, 2014)
Peanut food safety is a major concern as the former manager of a Georgia peanut plant knowingly shipped out peanuts with false safety documents, causing nine deaths and making over 700 more sick. The Georgia peanut plant manager, Sammy Lightsey, told  jurors that he did not think that he was “intentionally hurting anyone” while testifying at the trial of his former boss, Stewart Parnell. Quality assurance manager, Mary Wilkerson, Parnell and his brother, food broker Michael Parnell, were all indicted for shipping peanuts tainted with salmonella and falsifying safety documents to cover up lab tests showing the nuts tested positive for the bacteria.
Salmonella is a major food safety concern that makes millions sick every year, with numbers reaching 1.2 million in the United States alone and resulting in approximately 23,000 hospitalizations and 450 deaths. Salmonella causes severe diarrhea, fever, chills, body aches, vomiting and stomach cramps within 12-72 hours of a person becoming infected. The symptoms caused by the Salmonella bacteria usually last four to seven days and can be so severe the infected person has to be hospitalized.
Severe dehydration is the cause of hospitalization for those infected with salmonella. Treatment often consists of intravenous fluid hydration and a round of antibiotics. Recently, it has become more difficult to treat salmonella, as the bacteria is becoming antibiotic resistant. Salmonella can also cause reactive arthritis in up to 15 percent of those infected, a complication of the illness that usually becomes apparent around 18 days after the infection occurs.
Lightsey, who received an indictment as well, plead guilty to seven criminal counts and agreed to testify against his co-defendants to avoid a lengthy prison sentence. Lightsey worked at the plant from June 2008 to 2009 when the plant was shut down and subsequently went out of business. He testified that he contacted Michael after discovering the plant had been shipping peanut paste to Kellogg’s Corporation prior to waiting the 48 hours it took to receive lab results that ensured the peanuts were not tainted and Michael told him “not to worry about it.” He went on to say that Michael told him it had been set-up before Lightsey had been hired and he would “take care of Kellogg’s.”
The case is the first ever where officers and managers have been federally indicted on charges related to food poisoning. Lightsey faced up to 76 years in prison before taking the plea deal that would ensure he spent less than six years in federal prison. Lightsey was the first person to lie to investigators from the FDA when they showed up inquiring about the false food safety documents and tests after tracing the tainted peanuts that were shipped to Kellogg’s back to the Georgia plant. He told the FDA agents the plant had received one positive salmonella test, which had turned out to be a false positive during his time as a manager for the company. The FDA ultimately found 12 positive salmonella tests.
Lightsey plead guilty to charges incriminating himself for knowingly sending tainted peanut paste to one of the largest food manufacturers and distributors in the U.S., which used the paste in peanut butter crackers made for human consumption. Or, at the least not waiting for test results to come back ensuring the nuts were not tainted with salmonella or other contaminants and failing to notify Kellogg’s of the contamination to prevent the enormous corporation from sending the poisonous food to stores all over the country.
The case brings up major safety concerns in the food industry, which relies on the honesty of plant managers and employees to test food for known contaminants. In this case, the owners and plant managers are accused of falsifying safety documents and not performing law required food safety tests prior to shipping contaminated peanut paste to one of the largest food manufacturing and distributing companies in the country. This raises concerns that additional regulations need to be set to prevent this from happening again. The trial will commence on Monday and a verdict will be reached in a few weeks.

Remembering an FDA Scientist Who Made a Difference – Dr. Erick Snellman
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By Michael R. Taylor and Samir Assar,  Bill Marler (Aug 15, 2014)
One year ago this week, our FDA team was touring farms, food processing and packing companies, and irrigation systems in the Pacific Northwest to hear the concerns that growers and others have about certain standards in the Produce Safety rule that FDA proposed in January 2013.
The proposals of particular concern were those related to the irrigation water that makes it possible for farmers to maintain acres of lush farmland in a mountainous desert.
With us during that trip—as we walked through fields, shared meals with farmers and engaged in frank conversations—was Dr. Erick Snellman, a microbiologist and expert in the safety of agricultural water and microbial contamination of produce.
No one was more engaged than Erick in working with these growers on the best way to keep the irrigation water safe for use on crops that feed families in the United States, and all over the world. This was not just a job to him. He was passionate about using his knowledge to safeguard public health, to give families like his confidence in the safety of the foods they eat.
This week our colleagues gathered again, this time in suburban Maryland, to join Erick’s family and friends in honoring his life. On Saturday, Aug. 9, Erick died of cancer after a courageous battle over the last several months.
Erick wanted to make a difference, to do the right thing, and he did. FDA would not be able to meet its public health mandate without Erick and others who have made this mission their life’s work.
Michael R. Taylor is FDA’s Deputy Commissioner for Foods and Veterinary Medicine
Samir Assar, Ph.D., is the Director of FDA’s Produce Safety Staff

Salmonella Chia Toll: 31 in U.S. and 63 in Canada
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By Andy Weisbecker (Aug 14, 2014)
Today the CDC reported an increase to a total of 31 persons infected with the outbreak strains of Salmonella Newport (20 persons), Salmonella Hartford (7 persons), or Salmonella Oranienburg (4 persons) were reported from 16 states.  Five ill persons were hospitalized. No deaths were reported.
Collaborative investigation efforts of state, local, and federal public health and regulatory agencies indicated that organic sprouted chia powder was the likely source of this outbreak.  As a result of this investigation, several recalls of products containing organic sprouted chia powder and chia seeds were issued.
In Canada, four strains of Salmonella were associated with this outbreak: Salmonella Newport, Salmonella Hartford, Salmonella Oranienburg, and Salmonella Saintpaul. In total, 63 cases were reported in British Columbia (14), Alberta (10), Ontario (35) and Quebec (4). Twelve cases were hospitalized; nine cases were discharged and have recovered or are recovering. No deaths were reported.
As a part of this investigation, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency issued food recall warnings for various products containing chia seeds and sprouted chia seed powder under the brands Organic Traditions, Back 2 the Garden, Intuitive Path SuperFoods, Harmonic Arts Botanical Dispensary, Naturally Organic, Pete’s Gluten Free, NoorishSuperfoods, MadeGood, and Dietary Express. These products were recalled and removed from the marketplace due to possible Salmonella contamination.

12 People May Have Died in Danish Listeria Outbreak Linked to Sausage
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By News Desk (Aug 13, 2014)
An outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes linked to pork sausages may have killed at least 12 people and sickened another eight in recent months, according to multiple news sources.
Danish authorities said they closed down a small meat producer near Copenhagen on Monday in connection with the outbreak. The producer, Hedehusene, made a variety of rolled pork sausage called rullepølse, or spiced meat roll.
The sausage product has been recalled in Denmark. Authorities are now trying to determine if any of the recalled product had been exported.
The outbreak is now believed to be under control, but not before it hit elderly victims and others with weakened immune systems especially hard.
Those who died were also suffering from other medical complications, but their infections are believed to have been a contributing factor in their deaths.
Symptoms of Listeria infection include fever, nausea, diarrhea and vomiting. Most patients begin feeling symptoms anywhere from seven to 21 days after infection.

Cuts to Canadian Food Inspection Agency risk food safety
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By Gail Johnson (Aug 13, 2014)
Despite a recent announcement from the federal government that it’s shoring up the country’s food-inspection system, not everyone has confidence in the safety of what Canadians are putting on their plates.
On June 17, the Harper government declared that it had installed “inspection verification teams” within the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) to target food establishments such as slaughterhouses and other meat-production facilities.
However, Bob Jackson, executive vice-president (B.C.) of the Public Service Alliance of Canada and a former meat inspector, says that the dissolution of the CFIA’s Metro Vancouver Consumer Protection Inspectorate earlier this year and ongoing budget cuts to the federal agency are leaving people at risk of eating unsafe food.
“Food inspectors that were dedicated to consumer protection and doing a lot of retail inspections in Metro Vancouver, looking at things such as fraud and unsafe food displays, that unit has been disbanded,” Jackson said in a phone interview. “So inspectors are there but they’re not doing that dedicated work any longer; they’re being absorbed into the [Canadian Food Inspection] agency. The Canadian people have come to rely on government to be doing that work on their behalf, and we’re seeing further and further erosions to this and other programs that the food agency has been delivering.
“A lot of this is being turned over to the industry—and, unfortunately, we’ve seen the results of that,” he added, noting the 2008 Maple Leaf Foods listeriosis outbreak when 22 people died after eating deli meats. “It’s downright dangerous when people are policing themselves.”
According to the CFIA’s “2014-15 Report on Plans and Priorities”, planned spending on the food-safety program is to drop by about $35 million, from $321 million in 2014-15 to $286 million in 2016-17. For that same program, the number of full-time employees is to be reduced by 192, from 2,940 to 2,748 in the same time period.
Further reductions are planned for the meat and poultry safety “sub-program”. Planned spending is to be lowered by almost $24 million, from $169 million in 2014-15 to $145.1 million in 2016-17. The number of full-time employees will drop by 152, from 1,599 to 1,447.
The Metro Vancouver Consumer Protection Inspectorate was disbanded at the end of January, according to Jackson, with its former inspectors sent elsewhere in the CFIA. “All we’ve seen is further erosion of frontline inspections and further implementation of programs designed to let industry police itself,” Jackson said. “When a program is cut or dismantled or altered, there’s little or any consultation with people doing the work.”
The CFIA has been “retreating” from its consumer-protection mandate, PSAC says, even though the agency claims that there has been no decrease in the number of inspectors in the province. The union claimed in an April news release this year that the CFIA ordered its inspectors to stop verifying product temperatures in retail food displays. This is a safety concern because temperatures that are not low enough can foster the growth of pathogens that create food-borne illnesses.
Meanwhile, research out of UBC has determined that certain strains of the Listeria monocytogenes bacterium are able to adapt to cold and grow, possibly going on to make people sick.
“Listeria monocytogenes is an environmentally ubiquitous organism that frequently contaminates food-processing environments,” the authors (who included UBC grad student Jovana Kovacevic and Kevin Allen, UBC assistant professor of food microbiology) wrote in a 2013 study published in Applied and Environmental Microbiology. The organisms studied “may have increased ability to grow to unacceptable and potentially dangerous levels during cold storage.…These isolates are of significant concern to food processors and public health officials.”
Listeriosis can cause gastroenteritis or mild flulike symptoms in healthy people. In those with compromised immune systems, infections can become “invasive” and lead to encephalitis, meningitis, septicemia, or spontaneous abortions during the last trimester of pregnancy. Mortality rates range from 20 percent to 40 percent, according to the study.
For Erica Frank, a professor in UBC’s school of population and public health, the lack of monitoring for radiation in B.C. fish following the Fukushima nuclear-reactor disaster is also a concern. Although Frank, a former U.S. president of Physicians for Social Responsibility, said the risk from consuming local fish is low, she doesn’t understand why the CFIA isn’t rigorously monitoring the situation on a regular basis, calling it a “policy problem”.
“People are anxious about this,” Frank said in a phone interview. “I don’t think they need to be, but what they do need to be anxious about is the fact that in North America we have an awful lot of nuclear power plants of our own, and this is something that has to change. We need to think about this. My specialty is preventive medicine, and this is about as fundamentally preventive as you can get.”
According to a February 2014 web release, the CFIA tested more than 200 food samples following Fukushima, including imported food products from Japan, milk from B.C., and domestic and migratory fish from off the B.C. coast. The agency posted that “all were found to be below Health Canada’s actionable levels for radioactivity. As such, enhanced import controls have been lifted and no additional testing is planned.”
The effects of Fukushima are not over, however, according to Frank. “Those radioisotopes have 30-year half-lives, and I’m not at all confident that their [the Japanese government’s] containment efforts are going to hold out that long,” she said.
The issue of food safety has caught the attention of opposition politicians. According to federal Liberal agriculture critic Mark Eyking, this could become a significant issue in next year’s federal election.
“The food industry is a very competitive industry, and when people get cutting corners, it’s important that inspectors are there,” Eyking said on the line from Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. “If anything, we should be increasing our resources, not decreasing them.”
Meanwhile, federal NDP agriculture critic Malcolm Allen said cutbacks to the CFIA and the increase in industry self-regulation combine to threaten the safety of our food.
“One of the concerns is with the amount of food that comes into the country and the lack of inspection that actually happens,” Allen said by phone. “With such quantities of product being imported, we’re not really, I don’t believe, doing the work at the border because inspectors are understaffed.
“It used to be that CFIA did a lot of retail-level inspections,” he noted. “Those inspections are few and far between in metropolitan areas and even less so when it comes to smaller communities.”

E. coli Outbreak at Olmsted, Polk and Rice County Fairs (And Many More)
Source :
By Carla Gillespie (Aug 13, 2014)
An E. coli outbreak at the Rice County Fair has been linked to outbreaks at other county fairs and festivals during July including the Olmsted County Fair, the Polk County Fair and the Nashwauk 4th of July Festival. The source of the illnesses has been identified as the Zerebko Zoo Tran traveling petting zoo.
Contact an E coli Lawyer - Free Case Evaluation“This is another tragic reminder of the risks of petting zoos.  Pritzker Olsen has represented countless families afflicted by outbreaks of E. coli O157:H7 related to petting zoos across the country,” said Ryan Osterhom, an E.coli lawyer with offices in Minnesota. “We are actively investigating this outbreak to determine if all safety measures were taken by the petting zoo operator to prevent disease transmission.”
Petting zoos and animal exhibits at fairs are common source of E.coli outbreaks. In 2012, an E.coli outbreak at the Cleveland County Fair in North Carolina that sickened 106 people. Sixty-four of them were children, one of whom died. In 2011, an E.coli outbreak at the North Carolina State Fair in Raleigh sickened 25 people, four of whom developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) which can cause kidney failure, seizure, stroke and coma. In 2004, a petting zoo at the North Carolina State Fair sickened 187, 15 of whom developed HUS.
Other examples include: the Fond du Lac County Fair, Wisconsin , 2011 where an 18-month old was hospitalized with E. coli poisoning after attending the fair; the Hendricks County Fair, Indiana, 2011, where a five-year-old girl died of an E. coli infection after attending the fair, the Northwestern Michigan Fair, 2010 where three children who attended the fair contracted E. coli poisoning and the Rush County Fair, Indiana, 2010 where a four-year-old girl was hospitalized with HUS after attending the fair.
In this outbreak, lab tests have confirmed that the strain found in fecal samples taken from the petting zoo animals is a genetic match to the outbreak strain of E.coli O157:H7 found in all 13 patients. Two patients developed HUS, one of them remains hospitalized.

Zerebko Petting Zoo MN E. coli Outbreak One in a Long Line
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By Linda Larsen (Aug 13, 2014)
The ongoing E.coli O157:H7 outbreak linked to the Zerebko Zoo Tran traveling petting zoo is just one in a long line of outbreaks at state and county fairs around the country in the last few years. The Zerebko zoo goes from fair to fair during the summer months, providing animals for children to see and play with.
An E. coli O157:H7 outbreak linked to that organization has sickened at least 13 people in Minnesota. Seven people have been hospitalized in this outbreak; two have developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), and one person is still hospitalized. Zerebko Zoo Tran has been at the Rice County Fair, the Nashwauk 4th of July Festival, the Polk County Fair, and the Olmstead County Fair.
Girl at Petting ZooIn 2013, there were at least two outbreaks associated with petting zoos. An outbreak in September sickened three children in Kentucky and Indiana at Huber’s Orchard in Starlight, Indiana. All three children were hospitalized. The outbreak strain of bacteria was the same in all three patients, but environmental samples at Huber’s did not yield any positive matches. In October 2013, three children at Dehn’s Pumpkins in Dayton, MN got sick with E. coli infections. One child in that outbreak was hospitalized for weeks because her illness developed into HUS.
In 2012, at least 10 people, mostly children, were sickened with E. coli infections after they visited the Willow Grove Gardens Pumpkin Patch petting zoo in Washington state. And at the Cleveland County Fair in North Carolina during the summer of 2012, 106 people were sickened with E. coli infections linked to the petting zoo. One child died as a result of that infection.

UK food watchdog admits chicken factory breached hygiene laws
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By Felicity Lawrence and Andrew Wasley (Aug 12, 2014)
Roy Stevenson was a senior quality controller for more than a decade at one of the UK's largest poultry abattoirs, in Scunthorpe, until the end of 2012 when he was made redundant. Owned by the 2 Sisters group, the factory still supplies many leading supermarkets and fast-food chains. After the Guardian investigated this factory and others this year to understand why so much chicken across the industry was contaminated with the food poisoning bug campylobacter, Stevenson decided to come forward. He wanted to explain what is was like when he worked there, and why there can be such a gap between what auditors see and what workers feel is the reality on the factory floor
The government's food watchdog has been forced to admit that an initial inquiry which cleared one of the UK's largest poultry processing plants of hygiene failings was misleading.
Instances of chickens being dropped on the floor then returned to the production line, documented by a Guardian investigation into failings in the poultry industry, constituted a "breach of the legislation", the Food Standards Agency has now acknowledged.
Following the Guardian revelations at the site in Scunthorpe in July, the health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, asked the FSA to investigate. It rated the factory as good and wrote to the shadow food and farming minister saying there was no evidence of any breaches of food hygiene legislation.
But in an embarrassing climbdown less than a month on, the FSA has written to Labour's Huw Irranca-Davies admitting it was wrong. It has reviewed the Guardian's undercover footage showing dirty birds from the floor being thrown back into food production and concluded there has been a serious breach. But it has not issued a penalty, saying the company has assured it the problem has been addressed.
The admission comes as fresh allegations of hygiene failings at the factory emerged, with three former employees making claims about dirty chickens contaminating the production line and attempts to manipulate inspections up to 2012.
Labour said the FSA admission and the new questions over safety raised serious questions about the poultry inspection system in the UK.
Irranca-Davies said government inaction was damaging confidence in the food industry. "First we were told that there had been no breaches of hygiene regulations, then the FSA writes to clarify that a breach of hygiene regulations did in fact take place, but that no enforcement action will be taken," he said.
"Consumers rightly demand that the meat they buy in supermarkets is of good quality and has been processed safely and hygienically in line with the law. Consumers will wonder why no enforcement action has been taken when breaches of hygiene regulations have occurred."
The Guardian investigation last month revealed poor practice at the abattoir in Scunthorpe. It is owned by the 2 Sisters group, which supplies many of the leading supermarkets and fast-food restaurants, including Tesco, Sainsbury's, Aldi and KFC. Hunt asked the FSA to audit the abattoir in the wake of the revelations.
Despite supermarket audits of this and another site suggesting that improvements were needed, the FSA did not alter its rating of the factory, or issue any penalty, because the company said during the official audit that it had taken action to ensure it did not happen again.
But now three workers who have been in charge of quality control at the factory in recent years have come forward claiming it was "an almost daily occurrence" for birds to fall on the floor and be put back into the food chain instead of being correctly disposed of as waste. The company initially denied any instances of this happening.
The sources also claimed that auditors were often hoodwinked, even when their visits were supposedly unannounced, as managers slowed production lines and cleaned up poor practice when they were present. One described his responsibility for ensuring production managers followed the company's own rules on food hygiene and safety as "a war of attrition".
The footage above is of an abattoir in Scunthorpe owned by the UK's largest poultry processor, 2 Sisters. It supplies many of the leading supermarkets and fast-food restaurants. When the lines are running fast, chickens fall on the floor. They should go in to red bins for waste, not blue bins for human food. Our undercover filming shows a manager picking one up and throwing it back in to food production. 2 Sisters told us it had spoken to the individual concerned. The Food Standards Agency inspected the factory after seeing our film. It says there will be no penalty because the company has taken action to ensure this does not happen again. The FSA rated the factory as "good".
Concerns about hygiene standards in poultry production focus on preventing the spread of the food poisoning bug campylobacter. An estimated 280,000 people in the UK get sick each year because of it, and about 100 die. It is the most common cause of food poisoning, with chicken accounting for the vast majority of infections. The bug is killed by cooking but can spread easily from raw chicken.
The original Guardian investigation was prompted by insiders claiming that one reason campylobacter rates remained high was the gap between the industry's strict hygiene rules and auditing systems to check on them, and the reality on the factory floor, where managers were under pressure to process large volumes at high speed.
In a letter to Irranca-Davies, the FSA's chief executive, Catherine Brown, admitted "pretty much all UK chicken production facilities experience unacceptably high levels of contamination with campylobacter".
The Guardian's investigation also revealed failings and breakdowns at another 2 Sisters site in Llangefni, Anglesey, and at another large processor. Sources said these occurred at several key points in the chicken production chain which are known to be high risk for the spread of campylobacter. Breakdowns meant that high-risk offal, guts and feathers piled up for hours as production continued. In another incident, scald tanks were not cleaned for days, meaning hundreds of thousands of birds were processed through unchanged dirty water.
The FSA emergency audit of the Llangefni site rated it as "generally satisfactory". The Guardian understands that it was critical of the company for failing to cancel the day's slaughter when the scald tank incident occurred. Sources at the site said the tanks went uncleaned for three days; the company and the FSA say it was only two and that tests were conducted for bacteria counts before production was allowed to continue.
It is understood, however, that these tests were only for salmonella, not for campylobacter contamination.
The three new sources were all employed as quality controllers until 2012 at the Scunthorpe site. Roy Stevenson was in charge of a team of quality assurance technicians and worked at the factory for more than a decade until being made redundant at the end of 2012.
"On the day of the audit, all the lines would be slowed to a minimum where it was pristine," he claimed. "There would be no birds dropping on to the floor, an auditor would walk round and everything would look lovely, unlike any other day."
Richard Lingard worked at the factory as a quality controller for a few weeks in 2012 before moving on because he said it was impossible to do the job correctly. A third former quality controller with several years' experience at Scunthorpe in the recent past, who asked for anonymity, described being regularly undermined and bypassed when trying to enforce hygiene rules.
All three claimed birds fell on the floor regularly because the line speeds were too fast for workers to keep up, and they would then be recycled back into the food chain in breach of company policy. They allege that their efforts to stop this happening were undermined by production staff.
In response, 2 Sisters said audits could not be cheated and it had no way of knowing when unannounced ones would take place.
It denied that there was any "them and us" mentality between quality controllers and production staff, saying they worked in unison to continually improve standards.
Sources say the atmosphere at the Llangefni plant since the Guardian's revelations had appeared "chaotic" at times, with a stream of supermarket audits and "100% concentration" on cleaning and "getting everything clean and done right".
Following a surprise 4.30am check shortly after the first reports, during which workers were told a number of failings had been found, Tesco is understood to have returned to the Welsh plant last week for follow-up inspections. Marks & Spencer has also audited but found no breaches, and Sainsbury's audited Scunthorpe and suggested "improvements".
At crisis meetings at Llangefni after the original Tesco visit, senior management told staff of measures being taken to clean up the factory and change the way it had been working, according to sources.
They said these included bringing in extra cleaners, slowing production lines, ensuring production stopped more promptly at night so there was sufficient time for cleaning, and stopping slaughter when breakdowns occurred.
The Guardian has been told some staff have been asked to sign statements that they will not pick up birds off the floor and put back them back into production, and that only floor cleaners or supervisors were allowed to pick up carcasses from the floor.
The 2 Sisters Food Group said this was "standard business practice".
"In line with company policy, every year the company issues Conformance Certificates for Governance to all management and supervisors [which the] relevant employees in all sections of the business need to sign."
2 Sisters said in a statement: "We welcomed the recent FSA independent audit at two of our sites, which found no compliance issues. Both customers and our own internal investigations supported the FSA's findings.
"However, we are not complacent and we will carry on with our own continual improvement programme, taking on board learnings, investing in our colleagues, our factories and our product development. We will also lead on hygiene and continue with our industry-leading campylobacter trials to tackle this issue once and for all.
"We are determined to lead the poultry sector with best practice and compliance, and are always looking to improve standards across our operation."
The FSA defended its inspection regime, saying only meat that had passed "stringent safety checks" by its 1,100 frontline vets and inspectors was allowed to enter the food chain. It added that it had reorganised its structures so it has a dedicated team of veterinary auditors to ensure audits are rigorous and effective.

Potato Salad Ingredient Likely Cause of Fond du Lac E.coli Outbreak
Source :
By Carla Gillespie (Aug 12, 2014)
An ingredient in potato salad is the likely cause of an E.coli outbreak that sickened 60 people on the Fond du Lac reservation in MN, according to a report in the Pine Journal.  The 60 case patients attended three different events between July 11-16 that were all catered by the same source.
Public health investigators and tribal officials are not revealing the name of the caterer. A state health department spokesman told the paper that a review of the caterers operations found no cause for concern and that there were no signs of any cross contamination.
Potato salad was served at two of the three events. Testing on the ingredients has not turned up any positives for E. coli, but that could be because all of the contaminated ingredients had been consumes aleady.
The Minnesota Department of Health has said that the outbreak is likely over. The last case was reported on July 20. All of those who were sickened are said to be recovering.

Food Safety in U.S. Runs on "Honor System"
Source :
By Samantha Bonar (Aug 12, 2014)
The first-ever federal criminal trial stemming from a deadly foodborne illness outbreak in 2008-09 has revealed a shocking fact: The nation’s food safety structure largely runs on an “honor system.”
Witnesses have testified that Stewart Parnell and others at Peanut Corp. of America knowingly shipped salmonella-tainted peanut products. They say the company also sent customers lab results from other, clean batches rather than wait for tests to confirm their products were free of the bacteria.
But they weren’t breaking any laws in doing so – aside from the law of common decency. Defense lawyers reminded jurors that salmonella tests aren’t required by federal law. And, they still aren’t today.
Parnell and his two co-defendants face long prison sentences if convicted of knowingly shipping the contaminated peanut products, which were linked to a nationwide salmonella outbreak that killed nine people and sickened 714 across 43 states. The tainted peanut butter ended up in ice cream, energy bars and other products, prompting one of the largest food recalls in U.S. history and bankrupting Peanut Corp. of Blakely, Ga.
But Stewart Parnell, his brother and food broker, Michael Parnell, and quality-assurance manager Mary Wilkerson aren’t charged with killing anybody. The death toll won’t even be mentioned to jurors.
The 76-count indictment only accuses the Parnell brothers of defrauding the customers that used Peanut Corp.’s contaminated products as ingredients. Stewart Parnell and Wilkerson are also charged with concealing information from federal investigators.
Even still, only a few of Peanut Corp.’s customers (Kellogg’s was one) required the company to prove its shipments were free of salmonella, so those were the only ones that were technically defrauded. Isn’t that reassuring?
“If they didn’t require it, it did not get tested,” Samuel Lightsey, who managed the Georgia plant during the outbreak, told jurors Friday, according to the Seattle Times.
Lightsey plead out and agreed to testify in exchange for a lighter sentence.
Food and Drug Administration investigators eventually found that lab tests had showed contamination in the plant’s chopped nuts, peanut butter or peanut paste 12 times during the two years before the outbreak. That’s a lot of bacteria.
According to witness Janet Gray, an FDA inspector, at least eight of those salmonella-tainted lots were shipped to customers anyway. (Keeping records of testing for bacteria is also voluntary, according to testimony from another FDA investigator in the trial.)
Congress passed the Food Safety Modernization Act in 2011, which was supposed to give the FDA more resources and enforcement power. However, most of its rules have not been published, and the FDA still doesn’t require that products be free of salmonella when shipped – and it just announced last week that it still considers antibiotic-resistant salmonella “naturally occurring” and thus not subject to forced recall. The Center for Food Safety actually had to sue the FDA to win a federal consent decree ordering the agency to implement the law by next year.
Salmonella causes an estimated 1.2 million illnesses every year in the United States, with about 23,000 hospitalizations and 450 deaths, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Three other cases — a salmonella outbreak traced to eggs in Iowa, a listeria outbreak blamed on dirty cantaloupes in Colorado and an E. coli outbreak linked to Odwalla juices in California — resulted in federal plea deals with no prison time. This is the first case actually to go to trial.
Since the government doesn’t seem to take the matter seriously, many victims of foodborne illness have had to take their cases to civil court.
Last week, in response to a 16-month-long salmonella outbreak linked to Foster Farms chicken, the FDA announced it would be reducing the number of its inspectors in poultry plants by 770 positions.
Yes, you read that right. So cook the hell out of your poultry, and prepare to lawyer up, because when it comes to food safety, the government is clearly chicken shit.

Time to Ban Petting Zoos – with E. coli?
Source :
By Bill Marler (Aug 12, 2014)
Today the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) has identified at least 13 people who have developed E. coli O157:H7 infections as part of an outbreak associated with Zerebko Zoo Tran traveling petting zoo. All of these cases have infections with E. coli O157:H7 bacteria that have the same DNA fingerprint. Two of these are secondary cases resulting from being exposed to one of the primary cases associated with the petting zoo.  The 13 cases range in age from 2 to 68 years, 10 (77 percent) are female, and they are residents of multiple counties. Seven (54 percent) cases have been hospitalized, including three children. Two of the cases developed a serious complication known as hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), which affects kidney function. Currently, one case is hospitalized with HUS.
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.
In 2012, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services announced that a two-year-old boy who became ill with an E. coli infection after attending the Cleveland County Fair had died.  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 was 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

NGFA asks FDA for changes to food safety transportation rules
Source :
By Agri-Pulse staff (Aug 11, 2014)
The National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA) is asking the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to make “significant changes” in its proposed rules implementing the sanitary food transportation provisions of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).
The proposed rules establish certain criteria, including conditions, practices, training and record-keeping for the sanitary transportation of food. NGFA submitted its suggestions for the proposed rules during a comment period that ended July 31. It's not known when FDA will release its final rules.
President Barack Obama signed FSMA into law in January 2011. The law is considered the most sweeping reform of the food safety laws in more than 70 years. In addition to a rule on sanitary transportation under the act, the FDA has also proposed: preventive control requirements for human and animal food, standards for produce safety, a Foreign Supplier Verification Program for importers, a program for the accreditation of third-party auditors, and focused mitigation strategies to prevent intentional adulteration of the food system.
The rules regarding sanitary food transportation would apply to shippers, carriers and receivers transporting agricultural commodities, food, feed and feed ingredients, and other agricultural products by truck and rail.
NGFA praised the agency for not applying the proposed rules to barge and vessel transportation, as well as for not prescribing specific sanitation practices for clean-out of rail and truck transportation conveyances and equipment. “This gives shippers, carriers and receivers the flexibility to continue to utilize appropriate sanitary transportation practices that have evolved over time,” the group noted.
NGFA also said it supports FDA's decision not to restrict access for human and animal food to certain classes or types of rail or truck conveyances or transportation equipment.
However, the association asked FDA to grant three additional exemptions:
--for transfers of human and animal food between facilities operating under the ownership of the same legal entity, such as the same parent or corporate entity. Intra-company transfers typically involve the use of dedicated fleets of trucks or rail cars to move agricultural and food products between a company's own facilities, NGFA said.
--for dedicated rail and truck transportation conveyances and transportation equipment used to haul the same type of human or animal food on a continual basis.
--for transportation of live food animals. Although NGFA supported a tentative conclusion from the FDA to exempt transport of live food-producing animals from regulations, it suggested adding that specific exemption to this section of the rule. Transportation of live animals is subject to the jurisdiction of USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service.
NGFA also said it had asked FDA to make other changes to its proposed rules, including the following:
-Clarify the definition of “shipper” so that the requirement to notify carriers of any special clean-out procedures and to keep records applies to the party that loads a shipment, not to brokers or third-party logistics operators who arrange for the transportation to be provided.
-Modify the proposed requirement that carriers identify the previous three loads hauled in bulk trucks or rail cars. The NGFA said such a requirement is excessive and unnecessary.
-Eliminate the proposed recordkeeping requirement that electronic records be kept in a manner that complies with the agency's “onerous and costly” Part 11 rules that stipulate computer validation.
-Eliminate the proposal to exempt from the regulations those shippers, carriers and receivers that have less than $500,000 in total annual sales. NGFA said size-based exemptions are inappropriate for food safety. Instead, the association recommended that the agency provide small entities with additional time to comply with final regulations before enforcement begins.
-Clarify the definition of “transportation equipment” to apply only to those items (such as containers, totes and pallets) that actually are loaded onto a truck or railcar, or devices (such as pumps, fittings, hoses and gaskets) that are integral and affixed to the transportation conveyance.
-Delete the proposed requirement that convenient hand-washing facilities be provided for vehicle operators unless human contact with the food poses a hazard of causing the food to become adulterated or unfit for human or animal consumption.
FDA has also proposed a regulatory exemption for truck transportation of raw agricultural commodities by farms. NGFA recommended that the agency develop guidance on good transportation practices.
“Such guidance should stress the importance of cleanout procedures in non-dedicated farm transportation conveyances and equipment used to haul raw agricultural commodities and other products, and provide practical, realistic and effective sample clean-out procedures for such conveyances,” NGFA told FDA.
Additionally, NGFA emphasized that FDA's regulations should not undermine the legal responsibility for rail carriers and truck transporters to provide clean conveyances and transportation equipment.
“This legal obligation is reasonable because the carrier or other provider of the transportation conveyance is in the best position to monitor the use of transportation conveyances and equipment, know the contents of the previous load(s) hauled, and implement prudent and effective clean-out procedures to protect product safety,” NGFA said.

Mt. Healthy Hatcheries Link in Ongoing Salmonella Outbreak
Source :
Posted By Bill Marler on August 10, 2014
Friday the CDC updated its ongoing reporting of a Salmonella outbreak linked to baby chickens and ducks.  Now a total of 300 persons infected with the outbreak strains of Salmonella Infantis, Salmonella Newport, or Salmonella Hadar have been reported from 42 states and Puerto Rico. The number of ill persons identified in each state is as follows:  Alabama (8), Arizona (2), Arkansas (3), California (3), Colorado (5), Connecticut (1), Florida (1), Georgia (16), Idaho (4), Illinois (5), Iowa (3), Indiana (4), Kansas (1), Kentucky (11), Maine (9), Maryland (3), Massachusetts (1), Michigan (1), Minnesota (1), Mississippi (2), Missouri (1), Montana (3), Nebraska (3), New Hampshire (3), New Jersey (2), New Mexico (2), New York (30), North Carolina (28), Ohio (24), Oregon (1), Pennsylvania (29), Puerto Rico (1), South Carolina (6), South Dakota (3), Tennessee (17), Texas (2), Utah (1), Vermont (7), Virginia (25), Washington (8), West Virginia (18) Wisconsin (1), and Wyoming (1).
31% of ill persons have been hospitalized, and no deaths have been reported.
Epidemiologic, laboratory, and traceback findings have linked this outbreak of human Salmonella infections to contact with chicks, ducklings, and other live poultry from Mt. Healthy Hatcheries in Ohio.  80% of ill people reported contact with live poultry in the week before their illness began.
Findings of multiple traceback investigations of live baby poultry from homes of ill persons have identified Mt. Healthy Hatcheries in Ohio as the source of chicks and ducklings. This is the same mail-order hatchery that has been associated with multiple outbreaks of Salmonella infections linked to live poultry in past years, including in 2012 and 2013.



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