FoodHACCP Newsletter
08/25 2014 ISSUE:614


Canada Mandates Labeling Mechanically Tenderized Beef
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2014/canada-mandates-labeling-mechanically-tenderized-beef/
By Linda Larsen (Aug 24, 2014)
The government of Canada is mandating labeling of mechanically tenderized beef. All MTB products sold in Canada must be clearly labeled as “mechanically tenderized” and include instructions for safe cooking. These products have been tenderized by piercing with needles or blades. This process introduces bacteria into the center of the cut of meat, and means the meat is not safe to consume unless it is cooked well done.
Several outbreaks in both Canada and the United States have been linked to undercooked mechanically tenderized beef. An E. coli O157:H7 outbreak in Canada in 2012 was linked to mechanically tenderized beef produced by XL Foods; at least 10 people were sickened. In the United States, there were at least five outbreaks of E. coli O157:H7 linked to mechanically tenderized beef in the United States between 2003 and 2009.
This change applies to all industry selling uncooked or raw MTB products to other facilities or to consumers, including groceries, meat processors, and butcher shops. All federally regulated plants have been required to label those products since July 2013. It is not possible to tell by looking at a product if it has been mechanically tenderized, since the needle and blade holes are so small.
Attorney Fred Pritzker has been an advocate for labeling mechanically tenderized beef for years. Pritzker has represented patients who have been sickened by mechanically tenderized, also known as non-intact, steaks. Back in 2010, Pritzker said about an outbreak linked to tenderized beef: “This is at least the fourth E. coli O157:H7 outbreak associated with mechanically tenderized beef. Meat companies and restaurants don’t warn consumers about mechanical tenderization and the dangers that go with it.”
The USDA in the United States proposed a rule for labeling mechanically tenderized beef in 2013, but the final rule has not been published. It was expected in June 2014. Consumer advocates have been asking the government for years to implement this rule to help keep consumers safe.

Come on Whataburger – Vaccinate your Employees for Hepatitis A
Source : http://www.foodpoisonjournal.com/food-poisoning-watch/come-on-whataburger-vaccinate-your-employees-for-hepatitis-a/#.U_qVTE1WHs1
By Bill Marler (Aug 22, 2014)
Health officials are once again alerting the public about possible hepatitis A exposure – this time at that Austin Texas Whataburger in Central Austin. A restaurant employee there at the 2800 Guadalupe St. location has been diagnosed with the hepatitis A virus.  The same officials urge patrons to seek medical advice and treatment.
Hardly a month passes without a warning from a health department somewhere that an infected food handler is the source of yet another potential hepatitis A outbreak. Absent vaccinations of food handlers, combined with an effective and rigorous hand-washing policy, there will continue to be more hepatitis A outbreaks. It is time for health departments across the country to require vaccinations of food-service workers, especially those who serve the very young and the elderly.
Hepatitis A is a communicable disease that spreads from person-to-person. It is spread almost exclusively through fecal-oral contact, generally from person-to-person, or via contaminated food or water. Hepatitis A is the only foodborne illness that is vaccine-preventable. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), since the inception of the vaccine, rates of infection have declined 92 percent.
CDC estimate that 83,000 cases of hepatitis A occur in the United States every year, and that many of these cases are related to food-borne transmission. In 1999, more than 10,000 people were hospitalized due to hepatitis A infections, and 83 people died. In 2003, 650 people became sickened, four died, and nearly 10,000 people got IG (immunoglobulin) shots after eating at a Pennsylvania restaurant. Not only do customers get sick, but also businesses lose customers or some simply go out of business.
Although CDC has not yet called for mandatory vaccination of food-service workers, it has repeatedly pointed out that the consumption of worker-contaminated food is a major cause of foodborne illness in the U.S.
Hepatitis A continues to be one of the most frequently reported, vaccine-preventable diseases in the U.S., despite FDA approval of hepatitis A vaccine in 1995. Widespread vaccination of appropriate susceptible populations would substantially lower disease incidence and potentially eliminate indigenous transmission of hepatitis A infections. Vaccinations cost about $50. The major economic reason that these preventive shots have not been used is because of the high turnover rate of food-service employees. Eating out becomes a whole lot less of a gamble if all food-service workers faced the same requirement.
According to CDC, the costs associated with hepatitis A are substantial. Between 11 percent and 22 percent of persons who have hepatitis A are hospitalized. Adults who become ill lose an average of 27 days of work. Health departments incur substantial costs in providing post-exposure prophylaxis to an average of 11 contacts per case. Average costs (direct and indirect) of hepatitis A range from $1,817 to $2,459 per case for adults and from $433 to $1,492 per case for children younger than 18. In 1989, the estimated annual direct and indirect costs of hepatitis A in the U.S. were more than $200 million, equivalent to more than $300 million in 1997 dollars.  A new CDC report shows that, in 2010, slightly more than 10 percent of people between the ages of 19 and 49 got a hepatitis A shot.
Vaccinating an employee make sense.  It is moral to protect customers from an illness that can cause serious illness and death. Vaccines also protect the business from the multi-million-dollar fallout that can come if people become ill or if thousands are forced to stand in line to be vaccinated to prevent a more serious problem. 08/10. Quality Mgmt Spec - Food Safety – Albuquerque, NM

After food safety scares, China retailer offers baby milk insurance
Source : http://uk.reuters.com/article/2014/08/22/uk-china-food-safety-insurance-idUKKBN0GM0LR20140822
By Clare Baldwin and Diana Chan (Aug 22, 2014)
A Chinese retailer is offering insurance to customers who buy infant milk powder, highlighting the lengths to which companies are going to address concerns about food safety in China.
Suning Commerce Group Ltd 002024.SZ, which owns the Redbaby chain of stores, told Reuters it had launched the policy this week, backed by China's second largest insurer Ping An Insurance Group (601318.SS) (2318.HK).
The policy stipulates that if a brand of milk powder is recalled, customers who bought cans from any Redbaby store or its e-commerce website would be paid up to 2,000 yuan (196 pound) per can, with payments capped at 100,000 yuan.
"In recent years, the milk powder market in China has been in a mess," Suning said in an email.
"We realised that parents pay a great deal of attention to their children's health and safety, and in particular, the safety of their infants' foods," it added. Insurer Ping An said Suning's policy is the first of its kind in China.
Concerns about the safety of baby milk powder came to the fore in 2008 when thousands of infants fell sick and six died after an industrial chemical was added to raise the apparent protein content of certain products.
Pharmacies in Hong Kong, where food safety regulations are perceived to be more stringent, saw a run on baby formula following the scandal and many Chinese still travel into the city, a special administrative region, to buy baby milk powder.
Suning said it was giving the insurance away for free for the first 40,000 cans of baby formula sold. After that, customers can buy the insurance online.
According to its e-commerce site, Redbaby stocks milk formula from multinationals including Mead Johnson Nutrition (MJN.N), Nestle SA (NESN.VX), Danone SA (DANO.PA) as well as brands made by China's New Hope Nutritional Foods Co in partnership with New Zealand's Synlait Milk Ltd (SML.NZ).
Along with detailed nutritional information, the website also highlights the expiry date of each can of formula.
Food safety remains a major concern in China. Earlier this week, U.S. foodmaker H.J. Heinz Co was forced to recall some of its infant food products because they were found to contain excess levels of lead. [ID:nL4N0QP1E3]
KFC parent Yum Brands Inc (YUM.N), McDonald's Corp (MCD.N), Wal-Mart Stores Inc (WMT.N) and Fonterra Co-operative Group Ltd FCGHA.NZ have also recently faced food safety scares.
($1 = 6.1543 Chinese yuan)
(Additional reporting by Donny Kwok; Editing by Miral Fahmy)

 

 

 




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125 People in Alberta Sickened With E. coli From Unknown Source
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2014/08/125-sick-with-e-coli-in-alberta-source-unknown/#.U_qwvU1WHs1
By News Desk (Aug 21, 2014)
Alberta Health Services is currently investigating an outbreak of E. coli O157:H7. There have been 125 confirmed cases reported between July 15 and August 2o.
The investigation has not confirmed the source(s) of illness related to this outbreak, but Dr. Chris Sikora, the Edmonton Zone’s medical officer of health, says that nearly 80 per cent of cases were associated with Asian-style restaurants in Edmonton and Calgary during the last two weeks of July.
Sikora told CBC News that the E. coli strain seems to be isolated to Alberta, suggesting that the source could be a locally produced and distributed food.
CBC also reports that 17 people have been hospitalized so far.
This investigation is ongoing and involves collaboration with Alberta Health, the Public Health Agency of Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.
E. coli infections are generally caused when a person eats food or drinks water that is contaminated with human or animal feces, or through direct contact with a person who is sick or animals that carry the bacteria. Proper hygiene and safe food handling and preparation practices are key to preventing the spread of E. coli.
To reduce the risk of infection, consumers should wash hands with hot, soapy water often; cook beef to at least  160 degrees F; thoroughly wash vegetables and fruits before eating; thoroughly wash all kitchen tools and surfaces that have touched raw meat, and use only pasteurized milk, dairy and juice products.

How to Keep Bacteria Out of Your Child’s Lunchbox
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2014/08/how-to-keep-bacteria-out-of-your-childs-lunchbox/#.U_qWwk1WHs1
By News Desk (Aug 21, 2014)
With back-to-school season right around the corner, the U.S. Department of Agriculture wants to make sure that parents keep their kids’ lunches safe.
Children are at high risk of contracting foodborne illness because their immune systems are still developing. Children younger than five have the highest incidence of Campylobacter, E. coli, and Salmonella infection in the United States.
USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) thinks a food safety “experiment” would help both parents and children understand the need to clean, separate, cook and chill to keep their school lunches safe.
Before school starts, parents should pack their child’s lunch and have the child store it like they would while at school. When lunch time rolls around, families should take the temperatures of the packed foods.
Cold items should still be below 40 degrees F, and hot items should be above 140 degrees F.
To keep food from hitting the “Danger Zone” in the middle, at which harmful bacteria rapidly multiply, FSIS offers the following tips for future lunch preparations:
•If the lunch contains perishable food items such as luncheon meats, eggs, or yogurt, make sure to pack it with at least two freezer packs.
•Frozen juice boxes or water can also be used as freezer packs. Freeze these items overnight and use with at least one other freezer pack. By lunchtime, the liquids should be thawed and ready to drink.
•Pack perishable food in an insulated lunchbox or soft-sided lunch bag rather than a paper bag.
•If possible, a child’s lunch should be stored in a refrigerator during school, but the lid should be left open so that cold air can better circulate and keep the food cold.
•If packing a hot lunch such as soup, chili or stew, use an insulated container to keep it hot. Fill the container with boiling water, let stand for a few minutes, empty, and then put in the piping hot food. Tell children to keep the insulated container closed until lunchtime to keep the food hot (140 degrees F or above).
•After lunch, discard all leftover food, used food packaging and paper bags. Do not reuse packaging because it could contaminate other food and cause foodborne illness.
•If packing a child’s lunch the night before, parents should leave it in the refrigerator overnight. The meal will stay cooler longer because everything will be at refrigerator temperature when it is placed in the lunchbox.
Parents with more food safety questions can call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854) or chat live with a food safety specialist at AskKaren.gov, available from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday, in English or Spanish.
For more tips to keep your family foodborne illness-free this season, visit FoodSafety.gov and follow @USDAFoodSafety on Twitter. 08/10. Food Safety Manager – Salem, OR

Botulism Outbreak in Western Alaska
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2014/botulism-outbreak-in-western-alaska/
By Linda Larsen (Aug 21, 2014)
According to Alaska Dispatch News, state officials are investigating a botulism outbreak in Western Alaska. Two people have been sickened and one person died after eating a meal of fermented fish heads. The patients lived in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta.
Clostridium botulismSamples of food are being tested, and samples from people who have been sick are being examined for the botulinum toxin. If the death is confirmed as from botulism poisoning, it will be the first death in that state from botulism since 2007. The person who died complained of seeing double and feeling sick after eating the fish.
Botulism toxin is produced by the Clostridium botulinum bacteria. The bacteria grows in anaerobic (no oxygen) conditions, such as in canned low-acid foods. A tiny amount of the toxin is enough to kill a person. Symptoms of botulism poisoning include double and blurred vision, drooping eyelids, and dry or sore throat. The illness quickly progresses to symmetrical descending paralysis and trouble breathing. Quick medical attention can save a person’s life, so if you are experiencing these symptoms, see a doctor immediately.
A 2011 report titled “Botulism in the North” states that the traditional food of fermented fish heads, called “fermented stink heads” is a botulism risk. The fish used to be aged in grass or straw, but is now aged in plastic or glass containers that increase the risk of contamination. The report states that the fish are not actually “fermented”, but are aged by putrefaction or advanced decomposition of proteins and fat.

Russian McDonald’s outlets probed after food safety complaints
Source : http://www.thestar.com/business/2014/08/21/russian_mcdonalds_outlets_probed_after_food_safety_complaints.html
By The Associated Press (Aug 21 2014)
MOSCOW—Russian news agencies reported Thursday that the country’s food safety agency will conduct checks on McDonald’s restaurants in the Urals following food safety complaints, a day after four branches of the chain were shuttered in Moscow.
Natalya Lukyantseva, an official in the Sverdlovsk regional office of the agency, told RIA Novosti and Interfax that unplanned checks were being carried out in a number of restaurants after residents voiced safety concerns. The inspections come one day after the agency, known in Russian as Rospotrebnadzor, ordered four Moscow-based restaurants to suspend operations, citing “numerous” sanitary law breaches.
One of those restaurants, on Moscow’s central Pushkin Square, was the first to open in the Soviet Union in 1990, drawing crowds of thousands that circled around the block. The restaurant became a symbol of domestic reform and openness with the West, and today it is one of the company’s most visited venues in Russia.
The shutdown comes in the wake of rising tensions between Russia and the West. After the U.S. and the European Union slapped sanctions on a range of Russian banks and crucial industries last month, Russia responded with a wide-ranging ban on food products imported from those regions.
McDonald’s could not be immediately reached for comment about the checks in the Sverdlovsk region, but a statement posted on the Russian version of its website Wednesday said the company was doing “all it can for a speedy opening” of the four Moscow restaurants.

125 People in Alberta Sickened With E. coli From Unknown Source
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2014/08/125-sick-with-e-coli-in-alberta-source-unknown/#.U_qYPU1WHs1
By News Desk (Aug 21, 2014)
Alberta Health Services is currently investigating an outbreak of E. coli O157:H7. There have been 125 confirmed cases reported between July 15 and August 2o.
The investigation has not confirmed the source(s) of illness related to this outbreak, but Dr. Chris Sikora, the Edmonton Zone’s medical officer of health, says that nearly 80 per cent of cases were associated with Asian-style restaurants in Edmonton and Calgary during the last two weeks of July.
Sikora told CBC News that the E. coli strain seems to be isolated to Alberta, suggesting that the source could be a locally produced and distributed food.
CBC also reports that 17 people have been hospitalized so far.
This investigation is ongoing and involves collaboration with Alberta Health, the Public Health Agency of Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.
E. coli infections are generally caused when a person eats food or drinks water that is contaminated with human or animal feces, or through direct contact with a person who is sick or animals that carry the bacteria. Proper hygiene and safe food handling and preparation practices are key to preventing the spread of E. coli.
To reduce the risk of infection, consumers should wash hands with hot, soapy water often; cook beef to at least  160 degrees F; thoroughly wash vegetables and fruits before eating; thoroughly wash all kitchen tools and surfaces that have touched raw meat, and use only pasteurized milk, dairy and juice products.

Food safety too crucial to be left to johnny-come-lately ministers
Source : http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/aug/21/food-safety-crucial-johnny-lately-ministers-horsemeat
By The Guardian (Aug 21, 2014)
After your recent report on the diseased chickens, we now learn that the government report on the causes of last year’s horsemeat scandal has been shelved (Horsemeat scandal report was shelved, 16 August). Meanwhile, has anyone been brought to justice – the importers, the processors, the quality control experts employed by the supermarkets and the supermarkets themselves?
Whether or not government controls over food production are adequate, it should not absolve the major retail suppliers from their own responsibility for consumer protection – after all, it’s their names that appear on the labels.
I write because my wife is at last recovering from a campylobacter infection, which after the usual sickness and diarrhoea brought about the collapse of the nervous system in her limbs. She cannot attribute this specifically to horsemeat in lasagne or a supermarket chicken, but she can testify to the suffering. Press on with your clean food campaign.
David Redway
Bristol
• I was struck by the comment by a government spokesperson that “it is normal for ministers to set policy and for others to enforce it – in this case, the FSA”. When the Food Standards Agency was set up, in the light of ministers’ abysmal record of setting food policy during the BSE crisis, the whole point was to remove this policy responsibility from ministers in order to better protect the consumer. Section 6 of the Food Standards Act 1999  states that the agency “has the function of developing policies … relating to matters connected with food safety or other interests of consumers in relation to food”.  
Perhaps the government spokesperson might want to think again. The failure of the government to recognise that food safety is too important to be left to ministers lies at the heart of the confusion in a number of government departments about division of responsibility when food scares erupt. 
The government should give the agency its independence back so that it can get on with the task of protecting consumers in relation to food without political interference from johnny-come-lately ministers.
Mike Pender
Cardiff
• Michael Mosley’s Horizon television programme Should I Eat Meat? (Last night’s TV, 19 August) should greatly alarm the British public.
Despite trying to remain impartial throughout, the programme showed in no uncertain terms that meat consumption levels in the UK are unhealthy, especially those of processed red meat such as bacon and sausages.
Repeated scientific studies have shown that processed red meat is linked to bowel cancer, the second most fatal form of cancer in the UK, which costs the NHS £1.1bn each year.
Yet the government and health bodies have consistently failed to address this pressing public health issue for fear of upsetting the meat-eating British public. Even now processed red meat is served in hospitals to people who were made ill by it in the first place.
Processed red meat must be tackled in the same way as tobacco, through health warnings and making it socially unacceptable, for while we are killing animals to make these products, they are killing us as well.
Ben Martin
Animal Aid

Bank holiday barbecuers warned over food safety
Source : http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/health-news/bank-holiday-barbecuers-warned-over-food-safety-9681796.html
By Chloe Hamilton (Aug 21, 2014)
Nothing says August bank holiday quite like the threat of food poisoning – or so hygiene officials have warned.
As the long weekend approaches, many families around Britain will be looking forward to sharing a plate of burgers and chicken wings with friends.
According to research by the Food Standards Agency (FSA), 94 per cent of Britons are putting themselves and their guests at risk with their poor barbecue hygiene. Those burgers are too often half-cooked and the chicken too often is left pink.
A poll conducted by the agency also found that one in five people believe they have been ill due to something they’ve eaten as a result of bad barbecuing.
In an attempt to prevent post-sausage spewing, Britons are now being advised to forgo the charcoal, at least at the start, by cooking their food in the oven first before placing it on the barbecue.
The survey found that 24 per cent of those who describe themselves as the main cook at a barbecue do not usually cook at home, with many men keen to don aprons and prove they can master the art of cooking meat over a flame.
The survey also found that 19 per cent of barbecue cooks do not keep raw and cooked food on separate plates, 21 per cent do not wash their hands with soap after handling raw meat and almost half do not keep food chilled until just before they put it on the barbecue. A further 51 per cent of people risk cross-contaminating food by using the same tongs for raw and cooked meats.
Almost a third of those surveyed admitted to not checking that burgers and sausages were cooked all the way through and 32 per cent don’t check that chicken is thoroughly cooked.
“Food poisoning is a real risk at barbecues,” Catherine Brown, the FSA’s chief executive, said. “We are reminding people to take good care of their families and friends by paying attention to simple food-safety rules.” To avoid illnesses such as campylobacter, which causes food poisoning in an estimated 280,000 people each year, the FSA has suggested people pre-cook their meat and poultry before finishing it off on the barbecue for that authentic smoky flavour.
Barbecue enthusiasts might claim cooking the meat in an oven beforehand takes the fun out of cooking it over an open flame but the agency warned that “charred doesn’t mean cooked” and that meat should be piping hot all the way through, not pink, with any juices running clear.

What is it with Peanut Butter and Salmonella?
Source : http://www.foodpoisonjournal.com/food-poisoning-watch/what-is-it-with-peanut-butter-and-salmonella/#.U_qZK01WHs1
By Bill Marler (Aug 20, 2014)
In 2009 President Obama was quoted:
“At a bare minimum, we should be able to count on our government keeping our kids safe when they eat peanut butter,” the president said.
“That’s what Sasha eats for lunch,” Obama said, referring to his 7-year-old daughter. “Probably three times a week. I don’t want to worry about whether she’s going to get sick as a consequence of eating her lunch.”
The FDA announced on Tuesday that nSpired Natural Foods, Inc. was voluntarily recalling certain retail lots of Arrowhead Mills® Peanut Butters, MaraNatha® Almond Butters and Peanut Butters and specific private label nut butters packaged in glass and plastic jars sold at Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods and other retailers, because they have the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella.  The potential risk was brought to the Company’s attention by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration following routine testing. The Company has received reports of four illnesses that may be associated with these specific products.
So, what is it with Peanut Butter and Salmonella?  Here is a bit of history:
The FDA announced on Tuesday that nSpired Natural Foods, Inc. was voluntarily recalling certain retail lots of Arrowhead Mills® Peanut Butters, MaraNatha® Almond Butters and Peanut Butters and specific private label nut butters packaged in glass and plastic jars sold at Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods and other retailers, because they have the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella.  The potential risk was brought to the Company’s attention by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration following routine testing. The Company has received reports of four illnesses that may be associated with these specific products.
So, what is it with Peanut Butter and Salmonella?  Here is a bit of history:
Peanut Corporation of America Peanut Butter Salmonella Outbreak – Nationwide (2008-2009) – At least 714 people in 46 states were confirmed ill with Salmonella Typhimurium infection after consuming peanut and peanut butter products produced by Peanut Corporation of America (PCA) in 2008 and 2009.  Nine people died.  The Minnesota health department first listed a product advisory on January 9, 2009, when the presence of Salmonella was detected in King Nut peanut butter.  The outbreak strain of Salmonella was then traced to the Peanut Corporation of America’s Blakely, GA processing facility.  Recalls began with commercially distributed peanut butter, but the list of recalled products quickly grew to include over 3600 products made with peanut butter and peanut paste produced by PCA in the Blakely, GA and Plainview, TX facilities since January 1, 2007. PCA declared Chapter 7 bankruptcy in February of 2009.  PCA principals are presently on trial in Georgia for felonies stemming from this outbreak.
Sunland and Trader Joe’s Peanut Butter Salmonella Outbreak – Multistate (2012) – In September, October and November of 2012, public health officials from at least 20 states, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced that a Salmonella serotype Bredeney outbreak had been traced to the consumption of products made by Sunland, Inc. of New Mexico.  Forty-two people were sickened.  Trader Joe’s Valencia Creamy Salted Peanut Butter made with Sea Salt was the initial product suspected to be the source of the Salmonella outbreak, but further investigation led to the identification of additional nut butter products as potential sources of Salmonella infections.  Sunland issued a recall of peanut butter and nut butter products shortly after the Salmonella outbreak announcement.  Sunland eventually filed for bankruptcy protection.
Makes you think twice when you grab for that jar to make your kid’s peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

Cronobacter Infections May Be More Common Than Previously Thought
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2014/08/cronobacter-infections-may-be-more-common-than-previously-thought/#.U_qZnU1WHs1
By James Andrews (Aug 20, 2014)
Infections from a lesser-known foodborne pathogen most commonly associated with infants may be more common in elderly populations — and even adults and adolescents — than previously thought, according to a new study by researchers at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The study, set to be published in the September issue of Emerging Infectious Diseases, was intended to define the impact of Cronobacter on various demographics in the U.S. using data collected by FoodNet, the CDC’s foodborne illness surveillance network in 10 states. It was the first study to look at rates of Cronobacter infections in groups other than infants, said Dr. Anna Bowen, CDC epidemiologist and one of the study’s authors.
In the U.S., Cronobacter has been most commonly connected to outbreaks involving powdered infant formula, though the bacteria has also been found in powdered milk, teas and starches. In infants younger than one year old, infections can enter the bloodstream or cause meningitis, swelling of the brain and spine. In adults, symptoms can manifest as infections in the blood or urinary tract.
The study found that about 3.9 out of 100,000 people older than 65 were infected with the bacteria. That’s more than twice the number of infants infected, at 1.8 in 100,000.
“We were really surprised to find such a high rate of infection among the elderly,” Bowen said.
Out of 540 laboratory isolates between 2003 and 2009 included in the study, the vast majority were found in either infants or the elderly, she added.
Much of the attention related to Cronobacter may center on infants because they suffer from the most severe infections, said Mary Patrick, CDC epidemiologist and the main author of the study. Symptoms are milder in adults, while the bacteria can kill up to 40 percent of infants who suffer from meningitis due to their infections.
For parents who want to minimize their child’s exposure to Cronobacter, CDC recommends breastfeeding whenever possible. Experts also recommend liquid infant formula over powdered, as the liquid variety has been pasteurized, Patrick said.
When the only option is powdered formula, CDC recommends preparing it with water heated to at least 158 degrees F (70 degrees C) to eliminate any potentially harmful bacteria.
Where are all these Cronobacter infections in adults coming from? Answering that question is next on the research agenda, according to Patrick.
“These Cronobacter infections obviously come from someplace,” she said. “I like to think of this study as the first step in figuring that out.”

Food safety attorney, publisher fending off subpoenas over 'pink slime' stories
Source : http://www.bizjournals.com/seattle/blog/health-care-inc/2014/08/food-safety-attorney-publisher-fending-off.html
By Steve Wilhelm (Aug 20, 0214)
Attorney Bill Marler, one of the nation’s leading litigators in food safety issues, is increasingly also wearing a journalist’s hat.
In fact, Marler, a partner for MarlerClark in Seattle, has hired Davis Wright Tremaine attorney Bruce Johnson to fight off a subpoena that journalists for his publication, Seattle-based Food Safety News, last month received from Beef Products Inc.
Beef Products, a Dakota Dunes, S.D.-based meat processing company, manufactures a meat-based product it calls “lean finely textured beef,” but which detractors have dubbed “pink slime.”
That term was used by ABC’s Diane Sawyer, who i n a May, 2012 story with ABC reporter Jim Avila, stirred a controversy by reporting the use of the meat product in ground beef around the country.
Food Safety News and other news organization followed the story. Since then, Beef Products Inc.’s lawyers have been seeking information from about a dozen news organizations, including Marler’s journalists, as part of a defamation suit against ABC.
Here's a story in Columbia Journalism Review about the lawsuit.
In response, Food Safety gave Beef Products lawyers a list of all the emails between Food Safety and ABC reporters, but not the actual content of those emails.
“We at Food Safety News take the position that is privileged communication,” Marler said. "I don't know if they’ll try to enforce the subpoena or not. We responded by saying we're not going to give information because it’s privileged, but here’s the log so you can see when the communications (happened).”
While Marler doubles as publisher of Seattle-based Food Safety News, and pays much of the salaries of its four journalists (just recently increased from three), he also keeps the publication at a distance from his litigation work.

Alaska Health Officials Suspect Botulism in One Death, Two Illnesses
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2014/08/alaskan-health-officials-suspect-botulism-in-one-death-two-illnesses/#.U_qxIk1WHs1
By News Desk (Aug 19, 2014)
Officials with the Alaska Division of Public Health are reported to be looking into a potential botulism cluster in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta area west of Anchorage linked to the consumption of fermented fish heads.
After four people shared a traditional Yupik meal of the fish heads, one later died and two others were sickened, said Louisa Castrodale, a health division epidemiologist. The man who died had apparently complained of seeing double and feeling ill, according to a state troopers report.
State officials were testing food samples and samples from the two sickened individuals for the botulinum toxin, with results expected to take about a week, Castrodale said. If the death is confirmed to have been caused by botulism, she said it would be the first such death in Alaska since 2007.
Botulism is 836 times more common in Alaska than in the Lower 48, according to a 2011 article, which speculates that the reason stems from today’s use of anaerobic glass and plastic containers to age fish instead of the traditional grass, straw or animal skin bags that were previously used.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calls botulism a “rare but serious paralytic illness caused by a nerve toxin ….” There are five main kinds of botulism and all forms can be fatal and are considered medical emergencies, CDC says, adding, “Foodborne botulism is a public health emergency because many people can be poisoned by eating a contaminated food.”

Three Deaths Reported Among 156 Cases in UK Salmonella Outbreak
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2014/08/156-cases-reported-in-u-k-salmonella-outbreak/#.U_qxVk1WHs1
By News Desk (Aug 19, 2014)
Public Health England (PHE) is looking into a national outbreak of Salmonella Enteritidis after cases were reported in Hampshire, London, the West Midlands, Cheshire and Merseyside. What were being called “isolated clusters” of cases over the past few months are now considered potentially linked, officials said.
There were 25 cases reported in London and 55 in Hampshire, with 32 of those linked to The Real China restaurant chain in Eastleigh in July, officials said. Additionally, there were 33 cases reported in Cheshire and 43 in the West Midlands, with the latter linked to Birmingham Heartlands Hospital, where three people sickened by Salmonella reportedly died.
Test results showed all 156 cases involved closely related strains of S. Enteritidis, which is often associated with poultry or eggs.
PHE investigators were said to be working with officials from the U.K. Food Standards Agency to find the source of the outbreak, which has also sickened 49 people in France and an unknown number in Austria.
“We are making good progress and hope to have more conclusive evidence shortly,” said Dr. Paul Cleary, consultant epidemiologist leading the PHE investigation. “We will continue to monitor the situation, and, if there is any further public health action necessary, then we will ensure that this takes place.”
While anyone can be infected with Salmonella bacteria, young children, the elderly and people whose immune systems are not working properly have a greater risk of becoming severely ill. Symptoms include watery diarrhea, stomach cramps and sometimes vomiting and fever.

Food & Water Watch States Toledo Water Crisis Only the Beginning
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2014/food-water-watch-states-toledo-water-crisis-only-the-beginning/
By Linda Larsen (Aug 18, 2014)
Food & Water Watch states that the crisis over Toledo’s compromised water system is only the beginning in the United States. Earlier this month, levels of a toxin called microcystin prompted government officials to tell consumers not to use the water for drinking, cooking, bathing, or teeth brushing. That toxin is produced by a strong algal bloom.
Over the weekend, the City was increasing monitoring and testing because they said “the testing level of untreated water at the direct intake is showing a strong presence of microcystin.” The water was still considered safe to drink, since the water tested at .972; the World Health Organization has set a limit of 1.0 for that toxin. Chemicals brought the level of the toxin down to .456. Customers may have noticed a film on the water that is not harmful, and more of a chlorine odor.
The algal blooms are caused by phosphorous runoff from excessive fertilizer application on farms, manure from livestock feeding operations, and aging wastewater infrastructure. Other cities have experienced problems took including an outbreak of Pfiesteria, a toxic algae, in the Chesapeake Bay in 1997; contamination in the early 2000s in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and high nitrate levels in Des Moines, Iowa in May 2013.
Runaway fertilizer use, wastewater discharges from polluters and excessive nutrient runoff from factory farms have not been contained because of the strong influence of industry in government. The Clean Water Act has been weakened. And the EPA, instead of enforcing laws against polluters, are allowing water quality trading, letting industry purchase “credits” from other polluters instead of controlling their discharges.
Food & Water Watch states that water quality trading cannot stand as an option since “there is not one documented case of its success.” They also state that runoff from industrial agriculture must be regulated, as mandated by the Clean Water Act. Unless these actions are taken, these problems with our water system will only continue and get worse.

CSPI Says FDA Should Protect Consumers from Quorn
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2014/cspi-says-fda-should-protect-consumers-from-quorn/
By Linda Larsen (Aug 18, 2014)
Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) has released a statement from its Executive Director Michael F. Jacobson asking the FDA to protect consumers against the fungus-based meat substitute “Quorn”. Before it was turned into food for consumers, it had never been used for human food.
The fungus is grown in large vats. Since its introduction, CSPI has collected more than 2,000 adverse reaction reports from consumers who have eaten it. The company that produces Quron has tested the product; their studies indicate that almost 5% of test eaters became ill after eating the protein. CSPI wants the FDA to pull the product off store shelves.
Some of the adverse reactions after eating Quorn include nausea, cramps, diarrhea, and anaphylactic shock, which is characterized by swelling of the fact and throat, hives, and trouble breathing. Two deaths, one in California and the other in Sweden “appear to have been caused by the meat substitute” according to the press release. Some people react the first time they eat this product, while others build up a sensitivity to it over time.
Marlow Foods, the manufacturer of Quorn say that the fungus is related to mushrooms, truffles, or morels. But while all mushrooms are fungi, not all fungi are edible. The mycoprotein in Quorn comes from the fungus Fusarium venenatum.
While CSPI is calling for a ban on the product, others think that at the very least, a warning label should be placed on all products containing Quorn to warn consumers against possible allergic reactions. Quorn’s label states that the Quron burger contains 35% mycoprotein, textured wheat protein, and other ingredients such as sodium alginate and a barley malt extract.

 

 

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