FoodHACCP Newsletter
09/22 2014 ISSUE:618


Tomato Growers Thrown Out of Court
Source : http://www.marlerblog.com/legal-cases/tomato-growers-thrown-out-of-court/#.VB-vtk1WHs1
By Bill Marler (Sep 21, 2014)
Thankfully we still have a few reporters, like Michael Doyle, paying attention to news that is important.  He reported yesterday in the Fresno Bee that the Federal Court of Claims has rejected claims of Florida tomato growers who say they lost business because of Food and Drug Administration warnings following FDA food safety warnings in 2008 that proved erroneous.
The growers that filed the original lawsuit, including High Hope Farms and Juniper Tomato Growers, both of Quincy, Fla., called the FDA’s warning a “regulatory taking.” Other companies, including DiMare Fresh, later joined the lawsuit.  The suit was built around the Fifth Amendment, which states that private property shall not be taken for public use without just compensation.  The Court slammed the door on that argument:
“Advisory pronouncements, even those with significant financial impact on the marketplace, are not enough to effect a taking of property under the Fifth Amendment,” U.S. Court of Federal Claims Senior Judge Lynn J. Bush stated.
As I wrote in 2011 following the CDC/FDA post-mortem in the New England Journal of Medicine, if there ever was a reason (in addition to the risk of bio-terrorism) to apply more resources to national, state and local surveillance of bacterial outbreaks, the 2008 Salmonella outbreak that sickened 1500 people in 43 states, the District of Columbia, and Canada is one that I hear (from consumers and industry) most often.  The goal should be to jump on illnesses early and then to correctly get the offending product out of the market as quickly as possible.
According to the journal article, the results of multiple investigations (in 2008) indicated that jalapeño peppers were the major vehicle for transmission, and serrano peppers were also a vehicle. These findings include epidemiologic associations between illness and consumption of hot peppers, the convergence of tracebacks to a single farm in Mexico that grew both types of peppers but not tomatoes, and isolation of the outbreak strain from agricultural water and serrano peppers collected on that farm.
Recall, however, that early in the outbreak, raw tomatoes were thought to be a vehicle because there was a strong association between illness and consumption of raw tomatoes. Tomatoes had been implicated in many Salmonella outbreaks. The initial finding that tomatoes were a source was supported by the observation that the number of new cases decreased shortly after the national tomato alert.  However, the decline in cases shortly after the nationwide tomato advisory could be explained if avoidance of raw tomatoes indirectly reduced exposure to contaminated hot peppers.
Bottom line, local, state and federal authorities got it wrong, but did so facing the balancing act of alerting the public to a possible risk or waiting until more facts were know, therefore possibly increasing the numbers that become sick.

Yelp Reviews Could Help Detect Food Poisoning Outbreaks
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2014/yelp-reviews-could-help-detect-food-poisoning-outbreaks/
By Linda Larsen (Sep 20, 2014)
Consumer reviews of restaurants and other facilities on Yelp could help track and prevent food poisoning outbreaks, according to a new study published in Preventive Medicine. Researchers at Virginia Polytechnic Institute looked at reviews on Yelp of 5,824 food establishments from 2005 to 2012, screening customer reviews for relevant keywords, then analyzed every review. This information was compared to data from the CDC for the same time period. The scientists found that illnesses reported on Yelp matched the CDC stats.
The Yelp reviews were of 13,262 businesses closest to 29 colleges in fifteen states. Those 5,824 businesses were categorized as Food or Restaurants. Researchers constructed a keyword list using common foodborne illness terms such as “diarrhea”, “vomiting”, and “puking”. They found that 4,088 reviews had at least one of those keywords.
Then they looked at personal reports and eyewitness accounts. Dates of illness, foods consumed, businesses reviewed, and number of sick people were calculated. They then identified bias by people who posted a large number of negative reviews compared to the median. They also focused on restaurants with more than two foodborne illness reports in the same year.
Foods were divided into five categories and illness complaints were matched to CDC outbreak reports. Meat and Poultry were implicated in 32% of Yelp illness reports, and in 33% of the CDC reports. Vegetables were suspected in 22% of the Yelp reviews, and 25% of the CDC reports. Dairy and Eggs were implicated in 23% of Yelp reviews, and 23% of the CDC reports. Seafood was suspected in 16% of Yelp reviews, and 12% of the CDC reports. Finally, Fruits and Nuts were suspected in 7% of Yelp, and 7% of CDC reports.
The report also found that California, Massachusetts, and New York had the most illness reports. Restaurant inspection reports for four of the restaurants implicated in more than one outbreak had at least one food violation in the last four years. They included contaminated equipment, improper holding temperature, and cleanliness of food and nonfood contact surfaces.
The report concludes by saying that these Yelp reports could be useful for monitoring foodborne illness outbreaks. Tracking reviews in near real-time could reveal clusters of illness. Since the foods implicated by reviewers matched the CDC reports, that information could also help public officials pinpoint foods responsible for the illnesses more quickly.
Still, the data source isn’t perfect. Incubation periods for different foodborne illnesses vary. Since it can take days or even weeks in some cases for the illness to manifest after infection, people often incorrectly blame their illness on the food most recently eaten. The data are also incomplete. More detailed analyses could refine these sources.

Source of Oregon E. coli Cases is Not Otis Restaurant, But What Is?
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2014/source-of-oregon-e-coli-cases-is-not-otis-restaurant-but-what-is/
By Carla Gillespie (Sep 18, 2014)
An Otis, Oregon restaurant is not the source of E coli poisoning that has has put a 5-year-old boy in the hospital with kidney failure and taken the life of his for 4-year-old friend, Lincoln County health officials said yesterday in a statement. All tests for E.coli on samples taken from the restaurant where the friends shared a turkey sandwich Labor Day weekend were negative.
E. coli in ORBrad Sutton, 5, has been on dialysis for a week as he battles kidney failure from E. coli-induced hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) a complication affecting 10 to 15 percent of children with E.coli infections. “HUS is the most common cause of kidney injury to children,” said Elliot Olsen, a food safety attorney with PritzkerOlsen law firm. About 50 percent of children with HUS develop kidney failure, he said. It also causes seizure, stroke, coma and death. Serena suffered kidney failure, a stroke and a seizure before she passed away last Tuesday.
Brad and Serena’s families are friends. The children were together the last two weekends of August. During that time, they attended a party where they swam in a pond fed by running irrigation water, ate watermelon and cake purchased from a Walmart and had exposure to a pet goat and other animals.
Contact an E coli LawyerAccording to a story in the Oregonian, test results on droppings from the goat were positive for E.coli, but further testing is needed to determine if it is the same strain that sickened the two children. However, a third child who had no contact with the goat also got sick.
Aubrie Utter, 3, was also diagnosed wit E.coli HUS kidney failure at the end of August. Her family did not know Bard and Serena’s family until the children were hospitalized.  Aubrie spent a week in the hospital undergoing five blood transfusions before she was released. Her hospital room was just down the hall from Serena’s.  Aubrie’s  family spent time near the same river Serena and Brad visited on Labor Day weekend and also ate cake and watermelon from a Walmart before Aubrie became ill.

No new cases have been reported in Lincoln County since this investigation began.

 

 

 




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NSF Experts Say Elliott Report Key to Safeguarding UK Food Safety
Source : http://www.foodsafetymagazine.com/news/nsf-experts-say-elliott-report-key-to-safeguarding-food-safety/
By Staff (Sep 17, 2014)
The final report of the Elliott Review into the Integrity and Assurance of Food Supply Networks was published on Sept. 4, 2014. Food fraud is the deliberate substitution, addition, tampering or misrepresentation of food, ingredients or packaging and is considered by food safety experts at NSF International to be a global issue that cannot be dealt with solely inside national borders. Effective implementation of the report’s recommendations will require industry and government coordination as well as expert support to protect consumers.
“As the Elliott report makes clear, criminal food fraud is a very serious problem in the international food supply chain, the total scale of which is unknown, but ranging from relatively minor ‘casual dishonesty’ to organized crime encouraged by huge financial rewards. Limited intelligence means that we simply do not know the exact extent of fraud. What we do know is that it can be a cause of major food safety risks which severely undermines consumer trust in the food industry,” said David Richardson, EMEA Food Division vice president at NSF International, a global public health organization and food safety service provider operating in more than 155 countries.
Professor Chris Elliott of Queen’s University in Belfast was commissioned by the UK government to conduct the review in the wake of a major food fraud crisis in 2013 involving horsemeat found in beef products. In the report, Elliott discusses issues impacting consumer confidence in the authenticity of food products, including any systemic failures with implications for food safety and public health, as well as makes recommendations for addressing such failures. His recommendations are based around eight key pillars:
1.Consumers first - Industry, government and enforcement agencies should always put the needs of consumers above all other considerations. This means giving food safety and food crime absolute priority over other objectives.
2.Zero tolerance - In sectors where margins are tight and the potential for fraud is high, even minor dishonesties must be discouraged and the response to major dishonesties deliberately punitive.
3.Intelligence gathering - There needs to be shared investment between government and industry in intelligence gathering and sharing, although to ensure its effectiveness, all organizations must have regard to the sensitivities of the market.
4.Laboratory services - Those involved with audit, inspection and enforcement must have access to resilient, sustainable laboratory services that use standardized, tested approaches.
5.Audit - Industry and regulators must give weight to audit and assurance regimes, but also work to minimize duplication where possible. Industry should move to a modular form of auditing.
6.Government support - Government support for the integrity and assurance of food supply networks must be kept specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely (SMART).
7.Leadership - Clear leadership and co-ordination of investigations and prosecutions is required and the public interest must be recognized in active enforcement and meaningful penalties for significant food crimes. A new Food Crime Unit, based on the Dutch model, should be created within the FSA and become the lead agency for food crime.
8.Crisis management - When a serious incident occurs the necessary mechanisms are in place so that regulators and industry can deal with it effectively.
NSF International’s Opinion
David Richardson commented, “NSF International is supportive of all measures to improve food safety and levels of trust between consumers and the food industry. The Elliott report makes many sound recommendations, which if implemented effectively will provide a vastly superior coordinated approach between government and industry to tackling food fraud. The industry now needs expert support to translate these recommendations into practical strategies and systems to protect consumers as well as their own brands.”
NSF International was recently commissioned by the UK's Food Standards Agency (FSA) to develop a risk assessment framework, which is discussed in NSF’s white paper, “The ‘new’ phenomenon of criminal fraud in the food supply chain.” This framework works as an evidence- and risk-based diagnostic tool that helps to identify risk of fraud in the global food supply chain across different product categories.
Elliott has drawn attention to a major problem that not only affects the UK but the entire global supply chain. “Food fraud does not respect national boundaries and that is a major reason why it is so difficult to track. Transparency, traceability and data sharing among government, industry and third-party organizations worldwide will become major themes in addressing global food fraud threats,” said David Edwards, NSF International food safety consultant and former director of NSF International’s Global Food Safety Division. “Organizations such as NSF International with global resources, technical expertise and cooperative relationships with both industry and government can play a crucial role in facilitating intelligence sharing and developing solutions.”

Harvard Developing Device to Filter Pathogens Out of Blood
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2014/harvard-developing-device-to-filter-pathogens-out-of-blood/
By Linda Larsen (Sep 17, 2014)
Researchers at Harvard University are developing a medical device that replicates the function of the human spleen. The scientists say that it can filter pathogens from E. coli bacteria to the Ebola virus. The device, called a biospleen, is under development at Harvard’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering.
The device was primarily developed to treat sepsis, which is a blood infection. The biospleen filters out live and dead pathogens along with dangerous toxins that these pathogens sometimes create. The device removes the pathogens and toxins without having to identify them first. As drug-resistant bacteria continue to evolve and develop, creating a device that will remove these pathogens from the blood quickly without a diagnosis is becoming critical to medicine.
The biospleen is made up of two adjacent hollow channels connected with slits. Nanometer-sized magnetic beads in the device are coated with a “genetically engineered version of a natural immune system protein called mannose binding lectin (MBL).” MBL has a head and tail. In the human body, the head binds to sugars on the surfaces of bacteria, viruses, protozoa, and toxins. The tail tells the body’s immune system to destroy those compounds.
The protein was attached to magnetic brands that are one-five hundredths the width of a human hair that can be added to a patient’s blood. The biospleen has a magnet that pulls the beads through the channels to clean the blood, which then circulates back into the patient. In tests, more than 90% of pathogens were bound and removed. The devices can be linked to achieve rates similar to dialysis.
The scientists have tested the device on rats that were infected with Staphylococcus aueus or E. coli, two of the major food poisoning bacteria. The device filtered 90% of the bacteria out of the blood and decreased inflammation levels. Overall, 89% of the rats treated with the biospleen survived. Only 14% of the rats who were not treated survived.

No Source Yet in Kentucky E. coli Outbreak
Source : http://www.foodpoisonjournal.com/foodborne-illness-outbreaks/no-source-yet-in-kentucky-e-coli-outbreak/#.VB-xSU1WHs1
By Denis Stearns (Sep 16, 2014)
As of Tuesday, four Kentucky children remain hospitalized after suffering E. coli O157:H7 infections. The cluster of cases is being investigated by the Lincoln Trail District Health Department based in Elizabethtown and the Kentucky State Department of Health.
According to news reports, the first illness was reported in mid-August. Health Department Public Information Officer Wendy Keown says investigators are trying to determine if there is a common cause.  There is a possibility of a sixth case as well.
“We thoroughly investigate activities such as recent travel, exposure to animals, food histories. You know, have they been swimming anywhere? And try to find any commonality between those to determine a source.  As of right now, there has not been a confirmed source of infection identified,” said Keown.
The children have developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a rare and potentially fatal blood disorder.  The children range in age from 18 months to six years.
Keown says they are suffering kidney related problems. She says three of the children are from Hardin County and one each from Oldham and Boone Counties.
It’s possible they are not tied together, but Keown says that’s not likely.
Marler Clark, The Food Safety Law Firm, is the nation’s leading law firm representing victims of E. coli outbreaks and hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). The E. coli lawyers of Marler Clark have represented thousands of victims of E. coli and other foodborne illness infections and have recovered over $600 million for clients. Marler Clark is the only law firm in the nation with a practice focused exclusively on foodborne illness litigation.  Our E. coli lawyers have litigated E. coli and HUS cases stemming from outbreaks traced to ground beef, raw milk, lettuce, spinach, sprouts, and other food products.  The law firm has brought E. coli lawsuits against such companies as Jack in the Box, Dole, ConAgra, Cargill, and Jimmy John’s.  We have proudly represented such victims as Brianne Kiner, Stephanie Smith and Linda Rivera.

Legionnaires’ Disease Strikes 20 in Forsyth County, NC
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2014/legionnaires-disease-strikes-20-in-forsyth-county-nc/
By Carla Gillespie (Sep 17, 2014)
legionella-bacteria2Twenty people in Forsyth County including one patient  at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center and seven patients at Oak Forest Health and Rehabilitation ave been diagnosed with Legionnaire’s Disease this year. Health officials have not been able to find the source of contamination. Both facilities get water from  the Winston-Salem Forsyth County Water Treatment plant, but it does not arrive contaminated, they say.
Legionnaires’ disease is a severe form of pneumonia caused by breathing in Legionella bacteria contained in water mist from showers, faucets, whirlpools, swimming pools, fountains and cooling towers in air conditioning systems. It got its name because it was first discovered when an outbreak of pneumonia struck an American Legion convention in 1976.
It’s likely that shower mist was the source of the seven Oak Forest cases, health officials say. Wake Forest Baptist Cancer Center has installed a silver/copper ionization system and point-of-use filters on sinks and shower heads.
People with weakened immune systems are at heightened risk for Legionnaires. Symptoms include fever, chills, cough, muscle aches, headache, chest pain and fatigue. Prompt treatment is critical.

Food Safety Watchdog Finds Violations at Russian Burger King
Source : http://www.themoscowtimes.com/business/article/food-safety-watchdog-finds-violations-at-russian-burger-king/507302.html
By The Moscow Times (Sep 17, 2014)
A Russian subsidiary of U.S. fast-food chain Burger King has been fined $2,600 after health inspectors discovered food safety violations at a branch in Moscow.
The Moscow Arbitration Court imposed the 100,000-ruble ($2,600) fine after nonfood items — a milk-shake machine and onion and tomato slicers — were stored next to refrigerated food products at a Burger King on Prospekt Mira, state-run RIA Novosti news agency reported Wednesday.
Inspectors also found flies buzzing around "production and storage facilitIes" at the restaurant, the report said.
The fine was levied by the court at the request of Russia's food safety watchdog, Rospotrebnadzor, which said the sanitary violations posed a risk to human life.
The fine comes just weeks after Rospotrebnadzor shut down several McDonald's branches in Moscow over food safety violations.
Burger Rus, the Russian subsidiary of Burger King, has 10 days to lodge an appeal against the fine.

U.N. Says Ebola Crisis Could Become Food Insecurity Crisis
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2014/u-n-says-ebola-crisis-could-become-food-insecurity-crisis/
By Linda Larsen (Sep 16, 2014)
The Ebola outbreak in Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and other West African countries has made food expensive and hard to find. Labor shortages because of the outbreak are putting the harvest season at risk and trade is being disrupted, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations. This has led to “panic buying” and food shortages.
The harvest season in West Africa begins in September. There were positive crop production outlooks at the start of the season. Unfortunately, the areas with high incidences of the Ebola virus are among the most agriculturally productive areas of Liberia and Sierra Leone.
The organization has issued a special alert on this situation. Bukar Tijana, FAO Regional Representative for Africa said in a statement, “Access to food has become a pressing concern for many people in the three affected countries and their neighbors. With the main harvest now at risk and trade and movements of goods severely restricted, food insecurity is poised to intensify in the weeks and months to come. The situation will have long-lasting impacts on farmers’ livelihoods and rural economies.”
Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone are all net cereal importers. The closing of border crossings are causing tighter food supplies and increases prices. In Monrovia’s Redlight Market, the price of cassava increased by 150% in the first weeks of August 2014. Many households in the areas affected by the Ebola outbreak already spend 80% of their incomes on food. These latest spikes put food completely out of reach, which could affect disease containment.
The U.N. World Food Programme has launched a regional emergency operation, delivering 65,000 tons of food to reach 1.3 million people. Another problem is that people who can’t afford to buy food will hunt. Transmission of the virus from food animals to humans has occurred, since the Ebola virus can sicken small rodents, shrews, and bats. A ban on bush meat has already deprived some people in the area of their income and food sources.

Kentucky E.coli Outbreak Sickens 6 Children
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2014/kentucky-e-coli-outbreak-sickens-6-children/
By Carla Gillespie (Sep 16, 2014)
An E.coli outbreak in Kentucky has sickened six children, four of whom are hospitalized with hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a spokeswoman for the state department for public health said today. The children range in age from 18 months to 6 years old, said Gwenda Bond, Assistant Communications Director for the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services.
The cases include a pair of siblings and two other children from Hardin County, one child from Oldham County and one child from Boone County. A case from Nelson county was also recently reported but is not believed to be part of the outbreak.
KY-E.coli-HUS The newly reported Boone County case patient is not hospitalized and does have HUS, the life-threatening complication of some E.coli infections that can cause kidney failure, stroke, seizure, coma and death. Between 10 and 15 percent of children diagnosed with E. coli infections develop HUS.
State health officials are awaiting test results that will confirm if the cases are linked. At this point, the cases are believed to be associated based on “time and place” of possible exposure.
Symptoms of E. coli poisoning, which include stomach cramps and diarrhea that is often bloody, develop 1 to 10 days after exposure. HUS usually develops a week or so after the onset of diarrhea. Children experiencing bloody diarrhea should see a doctor.
Contact an E coli LawyerState health officials are collaborating with county health officials, agriculture officials, hospitals and doctors on an investigation of the outbreak.
Past E. coli outbreaks have been linked to undercooked beef, unpasteurized drinks, dairy products, fresh produce, swimming areas and petting zoos. If you have information about these or other outbreaks, let us know.

Can Restaurant Authenticity Trump Food Safety?
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2014/09/does-authenticity-trump-safety/#.VB-zNU1WHs1
By News Desk (Sep 16, 2014)
According to a recent study published in the academic journal Management Science, consumers are willing to disregard a restaurant’s poor health record if they believe the products and services are “authentic.”
Inspiration for the study reportedly came from Chinese restaurants in Los Angeles in the 1980s that stored ducks by hanging them from their necks at room temperature. When the health department cited these places for health code violations, customers objected, saying that the method of cooking and storing ducks had been practiced for more than 4,000 years.
Researchers wondered whether hygiene or authenticity is more significant to consumers when the two are at odds with one another, so they analyzed customer reviews of more than 9,700 restaurants in Los Angeles County posted online and the businesses’ health inspection reports.
Authenticity can be very difficult to gauge, but to do so, the researchers gave scores based on certain keywords used in reviews. In comparing this score with the number of stars customers rated a restaurant and its health grade, the authors found that unhygienic but authentic restaurants were valued similarly to their hygienic counterparts.
Consumers may have said some negative things about restaurants with low health grades, but they usually overlooked the hygiene issues when they thought authenticity was high.

Bill Marler – E. coli Attorney and Lawyer
Source : http://www.foodpoisonjournal.com/food-poisoning-resources/bill-marler-e-coli-attorney-and-lawyer/#.VB-zV01WHs1
By Bill Marler (Sepr 16, 2014)
An accomplished attorney and national expert in food safety, William (Bill) Marler has become the most prominent foodborne illness lawyer in America and a major force in food policy in the U.S. and around the world .  Marler Clark, The Food Safety Law Firm, has represented thousands of individuals in claims against food companies whose contaminated products have caused life altering injury and even death.
He began litigating foodborne illness cases in 1993, when he represented Brianne Kiner, the most seriously injured survivor of the historic Jack in the Box E. coli O157:H7 outbreak, in her landmark $15.6 million settlement with the company.  The 2011 book, Poisoned: The True Story of the Deadly E. coli Outbreak that Changed the Way Americans Eat, by best-selling author Jeff Benedict, chronicles the Jack in the Box outbreak and the rise of Bill Marler as a food safety attorney.
For the last 20 years, he has represented victims of nearly every large foodborne illness outbreak in the United States.  He has filed lawsuits against such companies as Chili’s, Chi-Chi’s, Cargill, ConAgra, Dole, Excel, Golden Corral, KFC, McDonald’s, Odwalla, Peanut Corporation of America, Sheetz, Sizzler, Supervalu, Taco Bell and Wendy’s, securing over $600,000,000 for victims of E. coli, Salmonella, and other foodborne illnesses.
Among the most notable cases he has litigated, Bill counts those of nineteen-year-old dancer Stephanie Smith, who was sickened by an E. coli-contaminated hamburger that left her brain damaged and paralyzed, and Linda Rivera, a fifty-seven-year-old mother of six from Nevada, who was hospitalized for over 2 years after she was stricken with what her doctor described as “the most severe multi-organ [bowel, kidney, brain, lung, gall bladder, and pancreas] case of E. coli mediated HUS I have seen in my extensive experience.”
New York Times reporter Michael Moss won a Pulitzer Prize for his coverage of Smith’s case, which was settled by Cargill in 2010 for an amount “to care for her throughout her life.” Linda’s story hit the front page of the Washington Post and became Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s touchstone for successfully moving forward the Food Safety Modernization Act in 2010.
Bill Marler’s advocacy for a safer food supply includes petitioning the United States Department of Agriculture to better regulate pathogenic E. coli, working with nonprofit food safety and foodborne illness victims’ organizations, and helping spur the passage of the 2010-2011 FDA Food Safety Modernization Act.  His work has led to invitations to address local, national, and international gatherings on food safety, including testimony before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce.
At little or no cost to event organizers, Bill travels widely and frequently to speak to food industry groups, fair associations, and public health groups about the litigation of claims resulting from outbreaks of pathogenic bacteria and viruses and the issues surrounding it.  He gives frequent donations to industry groups for the promotion of improved food safety, and has established numerous collegiate science scholarships across the nation.
He is a frequent writer on topics related to foodborne illness.  Bill’s articles include “Separating the Chaff from the Wheat: How to Determine the Strength of a Foodborne Illness Claim”, “Food Claims and Litigation”, “How to Keep Your Focus on Food Safety”, and “How to Document a Food Poisoning Case” (co-authored with David Babcock.)  He is the publisher of the online news site, Food Safety News and his award winning blog, www.marlerblog.com is avidly read by the food safety and legal communities. He is frequent media guest on food safety issues and has been profiled in numerous publications.
In 2010 Bill was awarded the NSF Food Safety Leadership Award for Education and in 2008 earned the Outstanding Lawyer Award by the King County Bar Association.  He has also received the Public Justice Award from the Washington State Trial Lawyers Association.

Study: Flame Retardants in Baby Food Well Below Unsafe Levels
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2014/09/study-flame-retardants-below-unsafe-levels-in-baby-food/#.VB-zh01WHs1
By James Andrews (Sep 15, 2014)
The levels of flame retardant chemicals in baby food from the U.S. and China are well below levels considered unsafe, according to a new study conducted by researchers at the Indiana University School of Public and Environmental Affairs (SPEA).
In fact, the levels of flame retardants in baby food are lower than those in other foods such as meats, dairy products, and even human breast milk.
The first-of-its-kind study also found that flame retardant levels were comparable between baby food in the U.S. and in China, a country that has been riddled with food safety scandals in recent years, including a 2008 incident involving milk and infant formula adulterated with melamine, which resulted in 54,000 illnesses in infants and 13 deaths.
Flame retardants are persistent chemicals found in electronics, plastics and textiles that keep the materials from easily catching fire. The compounds, including polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), have gained heightened media attention in recent years for their presence in the foam cushions of couches, chairs and mattresses.
Essentially, they’re everywhere. Small concentrations have even been found in polar bears in the Arctic, according to Dr. Ronald Hites, distinguished professor at Indiana University’s SPEA and co-author of the study.
Along with passing through to humans who sit on these materials or use products containing flame retardants, the chemicals accumulate in food. In turn, we absorb whatever chemicals are found in the food we eat.
Just this week, U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) announced he would be proposing legislation to ban 10 flame retardant chemicals in upholstered furniture and children’s products, citing evidence that high levels of exposure have been linked to developmental delays and cancer.
But scientists still have a limited understanding of what levels pose a threat to children or adults, Hites said.
“Nobody really knows what a dangerous level is,” he told Food Safety News. “No one knows how to do the toxicology on these things.”
What is known is that the levels of flame retardants in baby food are well below any levels at which adverse effects can be observed.
Hites said that the study was conducted to see how the levels of flame retardants in U.S. baby food would compare to that of China’s.
“What was surprising to me was that the levels of all these food types were about the same. They weren’t statistically different,” he said.
The study compared canned infant formula, cereals and pureed baby food from both countries. In general, the levels were similar, though researchers found high concentrations of Dechlorane Plus in one Chinese formula sample and one American cereal sample.
By comparison, breast milk in American and Canadian women tends to be slightly higher in flame retardants than breast milk from elsewhere in the world, including Europe and China. Why? Because there are more products containing flame retardants in the U.S. and Canada.
“Europeans don’t need cushions on their seats — they’ll sit on a wooden board,” Hites joked. “Really, it’s just the marketplace. The U.S. is the biggest marketplace for products containing these compounds.”
But he wasn’t suggesting women stop feeding women breast milk, either. The health benefits of breast milk still outweigh any risk posed by minor amounts of chemicals.
Now the chemical industry is creating alternatives to these well-established flame retardants. However, the long-term effects of the new chemicals might not be known for decades, Hites warned.
“There could be completely unintended consequences,” he said. “That tends to always be the problem when we release something into the environment that’s extremely persistent.”

Is Watermelon Suspect in OR, KY Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome Cases?
Source: http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2014/is-watermelon-suspect-in-or-ky-hemolytic-uremic-syndrome-cases/
By Carla Gillespie (Sep 15, 2014)
Is watermelon a suspect in hemolytic uremic syndrome casesIs watermelon on the list of suspected food sources health officials are considering in E. coli outbreaks that have sickened children in Oregon and Kentucky?  To solve outbreaks, investigators look for common exposures. Watermelon is one thing  children in both states ate before they became ill, Food Poisoning Bulletin has learned.
Health officials in both states say they do not yet know the source of the outbreaks and have not stated whether the cases are linked. But one common exposure is watermelon.
Contact an E coli LawyerThe three Oregon children recently diagnosed with hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) from E. coli infections all spent time near the same river and ate watermelon they bought from a Walmart store before they became ill, according to one of the mothers.
All three of those children were hospitalized. Aubrie Utter, 3,  was released after a weeklong stay that included five blood transfusions. Brad Sutton, 5, has been receiving dialysis and remans hospitalized. Serena Profitt, 4, died last week.
In Kentucky, five children have been hospitalized with HUS. The first illness was reported in late August, the most recent was last week.  Some of them reported eating watermelon before they became ill, but the melon was not purchased form Walmart, according to Wendy Keown, Director of School Health and Communicable Diseases, PIO, Lincoln Trail District Health Department.
HUS is a life-threatening complication that develops in about 15 percent of pediatric E. coli infections. It causes kidney failure, seizure, stroke and coma. Symptoms of an E.coli infection develop between one and 10 days of exposure and include stomach cramps and diarrhea that is often bloody. If your child has bloody diarrhea seek medical care right away.
Past E. coli outbreaks have been linked to undercooked beef, unpasteurized drinks, dairy products, fresh produce, swimming areas and petting zoos. If you have information about these or other outbreaks, let us know.

APEC economies strengthen food safety cooperation
Source : http://english.cntv.cn/2014/09/12/VIDE1410507840364135.shtml
By Ai Yang (Sept 12, 2014)
As globalization continues to make the world a smaller place, and goods become more accessible across borders, concerns about food safety in the Asia-Pacific region have steadily risen over the years. An APEC forum is being held in Beijing, to find ways to better address the issue.
156 participants from 19 APEC economies and 4 non-APEC members attended the APEC Food Safety Cooperation Forum. Created 7 years ago, the forum has been actively looking for ways to strengthen food safety standards in the region, without hampering trade.
"As consumers are faced with more varieties of food, the potential food safety risk also becomes bigger. This forum has helped APEC economies to cooperate in supervision, exchange information, and improve the overall food safety standard in the Asia-Pacific," said Director of China's General Admin. of Quality Supervision Wu Qinghai.
For the first time the forum has brought together high-level regulators, academics, and industry stakeholders to talk about their respective roles in safety supervision. They say governments alone cannot shoulder this heavy duty.
In China, the chronic food safety problems have greatly hurt consumers’ confidence in domestic products. But as more turned to imports, the cracks in that also began to show. In July this year, more than 400 batches of food imports from 35 countries and regions were labeled substandard by the country’s top quality supervisor. Excessive additives and microbial contamination were among the main culprits.
Government regulators and industries have been brought closer by this forum. As foods move and more freely beyond borders, this forum is hoped to facilitate safety control cooperation, so APEC members can better benefit from the economic integration.
The Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine has created the State Service for Food Safety and Protection of Consumers on the basis of the State Veterinary and Bio-security Service, the State Inspectorate for the Protection of Consumer Rights and the State Sanitary and Epidemiological Service.

 

No Source Yet in Kentucky E. coli Outbreak
Source : http://www.foodpoisonjournal.com/foodborne-illness-outbreaks/no-source-yet-in-kentucky-e-coli-outbreak/#.VB-0jk1WHs1
By Denis Stearns (Sep 16, 2014)
As of Tuesday, four Kentucky children remain hospitalized after suffering E. coli O157:H7 infections. The cluster of cases is being investigated by the Lincoln Trail District Health Department based in Elizabethtown and the Kentucky State Department of Health.
According to news reports, the first illness was reported in mid-August. Health Department Public Information Officer Wendy Keown says investigators are trying to determine if there is a common cause.  There is a possibility of a sixth case as well.
“We thoroughly investigate activities such as recent travel, exposure to animals, food histories. You know, have they been swimming anywhere? And try to find any commonality between those to determine a source.  As of right now, there has not been a confirmed source of infection identified,” said Keown.
The children have developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a rare and potentially fatal blood disorder.  The children range in age from 18 months to six years.
Keown says they are suffering kidney related problems. She says three of the children are from Hardin County and one each from Oldham and Boone Counties.
It’s possible they are not tied together, but Keown says that’s not likely.
Marler Clark, The Food Safety Law Firm, is the nation’s leading law firm representing victims of E. coli outbreaks and hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). The E. coli lawyers of Marler Clark have represented thousands of victims of E. coli and other foodborne illness infections and have recovered over $600 million for clients. Marler Clark is the only law firm in the nation with a practice focused exclusively on foodborne illness litigation.  Our E. coli lawyers have litigated E. coli and HUS cases stemming from outbreaks traced to ground beef, raw milk, lettuce, spinach, sprouts, and other food products.  The law firm has brought E. coli lawsuits against such companies as Jack in the Box, Dole, ConAgra, Cargill, and Jimmy John’s.  We have proudly represented such victims as Brianne Kiner, Stephanie Smith and Linda Rivera.

 

Job Openings

09/21. Associate Quality Specialist – Azusa, CA
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09/17. Food Safety and QA Manager – Freeport, NY
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