Salmonella Outbreak Linked to Wonton Foods Sprouts Sickened 115
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2015/salmonella-outbreak-linked-to-wonton-foods-sprouts-sickened-115/
by Linda Larsen (Mar 8, 2015)
A Salmonella outbreak linked to Wonton Foods bean sprouts sickened 115 people in 12 states in 2014. The outbreak, which was declared over in January 2015, was traced back to the Wonton Foods facility. Traceback investigations found that there were five clusters of illnesses initially, in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Vermont, but the outbreak spread as time went on.
Wonton Foods was the only supplier in common of bean sprouts sold to restaurants where ill persons ate before becoming sick. Wonton Foods agreed to clean their facility and destroy any remaining product in their possession. The sprouts are most likely no longer available for purchase or consumption since they have a maximum shelf life of about two weeks.
Most of those who were sickened ate at “Asian-style food service establishments” according to the CDC report. Illness onset dates ranged from September 30, 2014, to December 15, 2014. The patient age range was younger than 1 year to 83 years. Among 75 people interviewed in this outbreak, 19, or 25%, were hospitalized. No deaths were reported.
The case count by state was: Connecticut (8), Maine (4), Maryland (6), Massachusetts (36), Montana (1), New Hampshire (6), New York (22), Ohio (3), Pennsylvania (18), Rhode Island (7), Vermont (3), and Virginia (1). The ill person from Montana traveled to the Eastern U.S. when exposure likely occurred, so the outbreak was concentrated in that geographic area.
Unfortunately, underreporting of illnesses is a common factor in all outbreaks. Many more people were likely sickened by these contaminated bean sprouts, but did not report their illness to public health officials. The multiplier for Salmonella outbreaks is 30.3. That means that as many as 3484 people were sickened in this outbreak.
If you ate at an Asian-type restaurant in any of the states included in the outbreak last fall, and suffered the symptoms of a Salmonella infection, see your doctor. Those symptoms include diarrhea, fever, abdominal cramps, headache, nausea, vomiting, and loss of appetite. The long term complications of this type of infection can be serious, including reactive arthritis, inflammation of the spine and joints, inflammation of the membrane that protects the heart, and high blood pressure.
And public health officials continue to warn consumers that raw, or uncooked, bean sprouts or sprouts of any type are an inherently dangerous product. The seeds themselves are often contaminated with pathogenic bacteria. The growing environment, which is moist and warm, is perfect for the growth of bacteria. Unless bean sprouts are thoroughly cooked, consumers should avoid eating them.
Letter From the Editor: The Fourth-Deadliest Outbreak in U.S. History
Soruce : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2015/03/letter-from-the-editor-the-fourth-deadliest-outbreak-in-u-s-history/#.VPzzhNj9ns1
By Dan Flynn (Mar 8, 2015)
When the news broke last month that a settlement was reached involving 66 victims of the 2011 Listeria outbreak linked to contaminated cantaloupe, I remember thinking that I needed to go back and make sure that the official Food Safety News list of the 10 most deadly outbreaks of foodborne and waterborne illnesses in the U.S. was up to date.
The list is a project that grew out of the cantaloupe outbreak when it turned unusually deadly. It’s not unusual for foodborne pathogens to make hundreds and even thousands sick, and send people to the hospital in droves. Thankfully, however, medical care in the U.S. usually saves the foodborne disease victim.
As deaths were still occurring from Listeria-contaminated cantaloupe, we turned historian and went looking for original reports, books out of print, and old newspapers to try and nail down a top 10 list. I’ve come to accept that nothing that becomes the subject of historical inquiry is ever really over.
The end of this civil litigation seems like an appropriate moment to go back over our work from three years ago. The fact is that the number of deaths attributed to this outbreak has changed a bit and is also subject to some explanation by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). We’ve accepted CDC’s numbers for the historic records.
Here’s how CDC explains their work in the final report on the deadly outbreak:
•The number of outbreak-associated deaths has increased by three since December 8, 2011. In total, 33 deaths from outbreak-associated cases of listeriosis have been reported to CDC. In addition, one woman pregnant at the time of illness had a miscarriage.
•Ten other deaths not attributed to listeriosis occurred among persons who had been infected with an outbreak-associated subtype. State and local public health officials reviewed causes of death listed on death certificates to determine whether to attribute these deaths to listeriosis. Deaths included in this review occurred as recently as February 29, 2012.
Thus, the Listeria outbreak is the fourth-deadliest in U.S. history, the same ranking we gave it four years ago.
In addition to just nailing down the top 10 deadliest outbreaks of foodborne illnesses, this project also discovered that the U.S. appears to have enjoyed a golden era of food safety during the 60-year period from 1925 to 1985 when there were no foodborne illness outbreaks with enough fatalities to be included among the very worst events.
The 10 deadliest foodborne and waterborne outbreaks are:
1. Typhoid fever, 1924-25
Oysters from Long Island, NY, held in polluted waters, sickened more than 1,500 people in New York, Chicago, and Washington, D.C.; 150 died.
2. Typhoid fever, 1903
A public water source in Ithaca, NY, was polluted from a dam construction site, resulting in a typhoid outbreak involving 1,350 people; 82 died, including 29 Cornell University students.
3. Streptococcus, 1911
Raw milk delivered door-to-door in the Boston area was responsible for a strep outbreak; 48 people died.
4. Listeria, 2011
“Rocky Ford” cantaloupe from Colorado became contaminated, probably in the packing facility, sickening at least 146 people in 28 states; 33 deaths and one miscarriage. Ten additional deaths were possibly related to the outbreak.
5. Listeria, 1985
Mexican cheese made by a Los Angeles company sickened mostly Hispanic women, many who were pregnant; 28 died.
6. Streptococcus, 1922
Raw milk delivered door-to-door in Portland, OR, was contaminated; 22 died.
7. Listeria, 1998
Ball Park hot dogs and Sara Lee deli meats were recalled after Listeria was found in the Michigan processing plant; 21 died.
8. Botulism, 1919
Canned ripe olives from California sold to inland states were contaminated and caused outbreaks in three states; 19 died.
9. Salmonella Typhimurium, 2008-09
Peanut butter and paste contaminated with S. Typhimurium caused at least 714 illnesses in 46 states; 9 died.
10. Listeria, 2002
Sliced turkey meats from Pilgrim’s Pride were responsible for a multiple state outbreak; 8 died.
Researchers Find Possible Link Between Food Safety And Climate Change
Source : http://www.techtimes.com/articles/38104/20150308/researchers-find-possible-link-between-food-safety-and-climate-change.htm
By Dianne Depra, Tech Times (Mar 8, 2015)
Problems with food security have been previously linked to climate change, but now researchers have found that food safety might also be a concern.
In a study published in the journal Food Research International, researchers from Ghent University and Wageningen University have discovered a relationship between food contamination in fruits and vegetables and long-term changes in rainfall and temperature. With the climate continuously changing, will it be possible to continue to safely consume fruits and vegetables? This is what the researchers sought to answer with the study.
How can climate change affect food security? Take flooding, for instance. Areas subjected to more floods because of changes in the climate see higher concentrations of dangerous bacteria thriving in fruits and vegetables. The bacteria may be eradicated by sunlight, but exposure is uncertain because of erratic weather. In another scenario, hotter temperatures that result from global warming may give rise to toxic fungi that flourish in warmer weather.
In the study, researchers brought together latest scientific findings and information about how climate change can affect food safety. The journal issue it was published in also includes papers financed by the European Union for the Veg-i-Trade project.
These studies represent some of the first to tackle the relationship between the changing climate and food safety and researchers are of the belief that further investigation into the issue is necessary to expand on the work they have already done. The researchers added that as more scenarios are analyzed, the clearer the picture will be regarding how climate change can influence food safety.
Studies involving the Veg-i-Trade project included statistical analyses and field research that point to a connection between contamination in fruits and vegetables and variables in climate like rainfall and temperature. One of the preliminary studies on toxic substances from fungal sources revealed that by the end of the 21st century, tomatoes in Poland will be subject to higher risks of contamination.
measures that will help improve food safety will differ from country to country. Even within countries, different areas may call for different strategies to mitigate the effects of climate change on food safety.
The Ghent-Wageningen study is part of the European Veg-i-Trade project. Between 2010 and 2014, 22 research groups from 10 countries conducted studies on fruits and vegetables and how food safety is affected by climate change and globalization.
Issues on the Horizon for Chinese Food Safety Law in 2015
Source : http://www.forbes.com/sites/johnbalzano/2015/03/08/issues-on-the-horizon-for-chinese-food-safety-law-in-2015/
By John Balzano (Mar 8, 2015)
Now that both new years have passed, it seems appropriate to discuss what is on the horizon for food safety regulatory reform in 2015. Much of what I discussed in my similar post in February 2014 is still on the table, i.e., new legislation, increased criminal penalties, and exploration of mergers between Chinese and foreign companies to drive innovation and create capacity for safer production. This should not be a surprise because China’s food safety issues are systemic and complex, and at times it may be difficult to see progress on a short term basis. Reforming a system like that is a long and complicated process.
There could be some important developments in 2015
Development of the Food Safety Law
Over the past two years, we have seen the Chinese government reach out three times for comments on the revision of the Food Safety Law. The last draft emerged in December 2014, making several changes over the prior draft released in the summer of 2014. However, one thing appears to remain consistent throughout those drafts: the use of ever-stricter criminal penalties as deterrents for severe legal and regulatory violations. The current draft now mandates a short period of detention for those who are involved in serious breaches of the Law on issues like counterfeiting infant formula and distribution of substandard meat products. But, this is not necessarily a huge departure from what is going on now. The 2014 Work Report of the Supreme People’s Court, similar to that released in 2013, touts over 2000 of criminal cases involving unsafe food, including the conviction of 2,647 criminals on related charges. The question is whether these severe measures, if implemented in a fair way, will ultimately create enough respect for Chinese food safety regulation that they are no longer necessary, and softer measures that consume less resources, like warnings, will be effective.
Other changes are also on the horizon. For example, under the latest draft of the Food Safety Law, the China Food and Drug Administration (CFDA) can begin to develop a notification system to streamline market entry for a potentially very small class of health food products (i.e., dietary supplements) that use existing, well-accepted ingredients. China could also be solidifying its policy on mandatory labeling for genetically modified organisms. Currently it requires GMO labeling by regulation, but it may strengthen that policy by putting it in the national law, which is harder to amend. Once China amends the Law, a variety of these types of changes can begin to take shape.
Food Safety Standards
2015 could be the year of the food safety standard. One of the difficult parts of bringing a food product to market in China is determining what food safety standards apply. These standards govern the specifics of nearly everything, including ingredients, testing methods, manufacturing, contact substances and packaging, and nutrition labeling. A domestic manufacturer or importer must hunt for the most up-to-date versions of those standards, and decide what, if anything, it can do to obtain a timely variance for a novel product or to create its own standard. China’s body of conflicting and outdated standards has caused many problems over the years.
To remedy these problems, the National Health and Family Planning Commission (NHFPC) has engaged in a multi-year effort to completely revamp and rebuild the system, including canceling old standards, amending outdated standards, and enacting new standards. The primary goals of that effort come due in 2015. This year we will hopefully see the results of NHFPC’s hard work more vividly as the final standards are enacted or revised, and new standards go into force.
However, one thing that remains to be seen is whether the NHFPC will make these standards freely available. Until now, many standards have not been easy to find online for free, meaning they were both difficult to understand and difficult to obtain. Hopefully, as its plans draw to a close, NHFPC will make the standards that are applicable to categories of food and beverages, food additives, food contact substances, and other food related products freely available in their full form in a keyword-searchable database online. And, hopefully, NHFPC will also codify the standards, index and sub-index them according to product category, and draft explanatory guidance that is clear and accessible to even the smallest food enterprises, as well as offer readily accessible resources to answer questions about content. If the standards are not clearly organized, clearly explained, and freely available, then NHFPC’s admirable work in this area could be wasted.
There’s more. NHFPC is beginning to consider how to revise the regulations for filing food safety enterprise standards. Enterprise standards are standards that are specific to the filer and that either articulate a higher standard than a mandatory government standard or create a standard in an area in which there is no corresponding governmental standard. The regulations under revision set out the process by which companies can file these standards with the government. The revision of these regulations could be important for those planning to put novel products on the market.
Modernization of the Farming System
In a high-level policy document, Document No. 1 of 2015, the government is promising to modernize the farming system in several respects. This plan includes modernizing farming methods to increase productivity, ensuring the stability of China’s food supply by protecting farmland from industrial development and pollution, and offering more loans for China’s farmers. This is not as new as one might think. China has been promoting the mechanization of agriculture, relief from financial burdens for farmers and other rural inhabitants, and protections against the erosion of its limited arable land for years now. For example, in 2005 China’s legislature passed a law to promote the mechanization of agriculture. Tax reform and the construction of a better healthcare system for the countryside have also been in the works for many years. Whether this plan will be more successful than prior efforts is something else to look out for in 2015.
What are the legal consequences of this plan? Arguably the primary law for ensuring the safety of raw agricultural production, which also includes some protections against industrial pollution, is the Agricultural Product Quality and Safety Law. This Law is out of date, with vague and general requirements. Like the Food Safety Law, it is also in need of an upgrade. The new document calls for “completion” of the laws and regulations governing agricultural product quality and safety. Although this statement does not exactly call for an amendment, it will be important to watch for what, if anything, is on the horizon for this Law or related regulations in 2015.
Overall, 2015 promises to be a year with potential for continuing to build a stronger system to improve food safety in China, which still faces very significant challenges. Come December of 2015 hopefully China will be celebrating a number of accomplishments in these areas.
Salmonella Outbreak at GA Centennial High School in 2014 Sickened 150
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2015/salmonella-outbreak-at-ga-centennial-high-school-in-2014-sickened-150/
By Linda Larsen (Mar 7, 2015)
The 2014 Salmonella outbreak at at Centennial High School Sports Banquet in Fulton County, Georgia sickened up to 150 people. An analysis of this outbreak was conducted by Caroline Stamatakis as part of a field investigation report by the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists.
FPBSalmonella-300x225Seventy-one of the 200 attendees were surveyed after the outbreak. Fifty-six probable cases and 13 controls were identified. Onset of symptoms were from December 8 to December 10, 2014. The most common symptoms were headache, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, body aches, and chills. The average illness length was about 5 days.
Those in the probable case group who ate the smoked chicken at the banquet all got sick. Only the smoked chicken was “significantly associated with illness.” Bacteriology results found 10 positive specimens for Salmonella Thompson. PFGE analysis found that nine of the 10 specimens had the same DNA pattern.
Investigations by public health officials found that the person preparing the chicken had “limited knowledge regarding the required temperatures and procedures necessary to properly store or cook chicken for such a large number of people,” according to the report. The contaminated smoked chicken was “the probable transmission vehicle” of the outbreak.
The analysis found that proper food preparation and serving processed are very important to prevent food borne illness. Private facilities without permits for food service and catering events are not usually held to the same standard as professional caterers, which can be a serious problem. All people who prepare and serve food for others should be educated about food safety preparation and proper food service.
If you ate smoked chicken at that banquet and got sick with the symptoms described, please see your doctor. The complications of a Salmonella infection can be lifelong, including reactive arthritis, high blood pressure, Salmonella colitis, and other health problems.
Food safety: What's the temperature?
Source : http://www.baxterbulletin.com/story/news/local/2015/03/06/food-safety-report-temperatures/24533345/
By Kaitlyn Schwers, (Mar 6, 2015)
Whether it's the heating or cooling process, the Baxter County Health Unit says there are a few key temperatures to remember when it comes to potentially hazardous foods. In February's latest round of inspections, temperatures are checked often for accuracy and consumer safety.
Environmental Health Specialist Jeremy Uhlmann says there are two temperatures for business owners to remember when handling food.
"For potentially hazardous foods, we keep those at or below 41 degrees, and if it's being hot-held, we keep it at 135 degrees or greater," he said. "It's complicated on how we do the cooling."
During inspections, Uhlmann offers a couple tips to remember when it comes to cooling and heating food from the day before. The cooling process should ideally take four hours or less to reach a safe temperature. Heating should take more than 15 seconds. It's all about time control.
"For cooling, you have to cool it within two hours from 135 to 70 degrees, and then within six hours, to 41 degrees or less," Uhlmann said. "The goal is going to be to minimize the amount of time.
"To reheat, you have to heat it to 165 degrees or above for at least 15 seconds for anything that is left over from the day before."
Uhlmann also noted that thermometers must be conspicuously placed and checked for accuracy routinely.
"In my experience, if it's not easy to do, people just don't do it. It's like hand-washing. If the sink isn't available, and it doesn't have soap, people don't usually take the time to go get soap just to come wash their hands. They leave that for someone else to do," said Uhlmann, who inspected 18 area facilities for the February report. "That's one of the things I really look for.
"Same thing with thermometers. People should be routinely checking their cooling equipment to make sure it didn't go out of service overnight or the day before."
For more information concerning food inspections, call the Baxter County Health Unit at (870) 425-2545.
The down and dirty on manure and food safety
Source : http://msue.anr.msu.edu/news/the_down_and_dirty_on_manure_and_food_safety
Manure can be a valuable plant nutrient source and a potential food safety hazard.
By Phil Tocco, Michigan State University Extension (Mar 4, 2015)
Manure can be a significant benefit to growing fresh produce or a potential threat to food safety when applied on produce farms. Raw manure should never come into contact with harvested produce and, in all cases, produce in the field. Proper application and storage of manure near produce farms is essential to ensure a reduced risk of contamination. Improper application can result in costly recalls or worse.
In general, manure should be stored at least 100 yards from the produce growing area. Care should be taken to ensure that no runoff from the storage facility enters the production area. If you choose to periodically check the manure storage area to ensure this, it should be written as part of a Standard Operating Procedure and the periodic monitoring should be recorded on a manure storage log sheet.
Either an annual calibration of the application equipment to ensure an effective rate of nutrient application or a manure nutrient test with applications in each field in tons per acre can serve to validate your rate of application based on crop removal. In either case, include any documentation or record the date of calibration in your Food Safety Manual.
It is also important to be aware of what some food safety auditors may consider to be raw manure. In some cases, food safety auditors have considered fish emulsion to be raw manure. If using fish emulsion, be sure you have documented assurance from the supplier that it contains no detectable generic E. coli. This documented assurance should be in the form of an analysis report. As an additional precaution, Michigan State University Extension recommends delivering the fish emulsion through a drip line or other means where there is no direct contact of the fish emulsion with the edible portion of the plant.
If you have specific questions about manure use or have difficulty tailoring GAPs to your farm, contact the Agrifood Safety Work Group at firstname.lastname@example.org or 517-788-4292.
Governments to fund 289 food safety projects on Manitoba farms
Soruce : http://mytoba.ca/news/governments-to-fund-289-food-safety-projects-on-manitoba-farms/
By MyToba.ca in Featured, FOOD, MANITOBA, NEWS (Mar 6, 2015)
The Canada and Manitoba governments will invest nearly $1.5 million in 289 on-farm food safety projects, Federal Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz and Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Development Minister Ron Kostyshyn announced Thursday.
“Canadian farmers are globally recognized for producing safe and high quality products,” said Ritz. “Our government is proud to invest in projects like these that help meet consumer demands and provide growth and prosperity opportunities for our farmers.”
Manitoba farmers applied for funding to improve biosecurity, traceability, food safety and quality, and animal health practices on their farms. The governments provided up to 65 per cent of total eligible costs.
“On-farm food safety is a priority for Manitoba’s farmers,” said Kostyshyn. “These projects will help ensure producers have the resources and tools available to continue implementing best practices. The program is tailored to meet the needs of Manitoba farms and supports our shared commitment to provide safe food to consumers.”
More than half of all projects (165) will take place on hog farms. Projects were also approved for beef (46), poultry (40) and bee (22) operations. Sixteen projects were funded on dairy, horticulture, grains and oilseeds and other livestock farms.
Projects are funded under Growing Forward 2’s Growing Assurance – Food Safety On-Farm program. To be eligible, producers must have implemented a national on-farm food safety program for their commodity.
The federal and provincial governments are investing $176 million in Manitoba under Growing Forward 2, a five-year, federal-provincial-territorial policy framework to advance the agriculture industry, helping producers and processors become more innovative and competitive in world markets. For more information about Growing Assurance, go to www.gov.mb.ca/agriculture/growing-forward-2 under Strategic Initiatives.
For more information on Manitoba’s agricultural programs and services, follow Manitoba Agriculture on Twitter.
New Study Links Government Food Safety Spending and Illness
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2015/new-study-links-government-food-safety-spending-and-illness/
By Linda Larsen (Mar 4, 2015)
A new study conducted at the University of Washington School of Nursing has found that local government spending on food safety and sanitation programs affects the number of illnesses occurring in surrounding areas. Researchers looked at 11 years of data from county health departments in Washington state and New York.
In Washington state, cuts to public health programs correlated with increasing Salmonella infections. In New York, cuts to public health programs correlated with increased Cryptosporidium infections. There have been major budget cuts and job losses in local health departments in recent years.
Higher rates of Salmonella infections, which are usually caused by contaminated food, are associated with fewer food safety services. Cryptosporidiosis is waterborne, usually spread through public pools, and outbreaks of this parasite is associated with facility sanitation. In addition, these diarrheal illnesses are usually underreported and underestimated.
The local food safety activities defined in the study included educational efforts, implementation of regulations, food-handler permits, restaurant inspections, and complaint investigations. Health departments that spent more money on these areas experienced “significantly lower” incidences of Salmonella and Cryptosporidium.
The researchers also looked at E. coli, Campylobacter, and Hepatitis A, but couldn’t come to conclusions about associations between those infections and public health spending. Overall, though, the researchers concluded that cutting investments in public health may increase the risk of illness among the general public.
Betty Bekemeier, the study’s lead investigator said in a statement, “we can all expect and hope that these important services related to restaurant safety and proper sanitation in pools and public facilities are doing their job in terms of keeping us safe from disease. We can now say much more definitely how important these services are for protecting our health.”
Study: Infection Rates Correlate with Public Health Spending
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2015/03/study-infection-rates-correlate-with-spending-on-public-health-programs/#.VPz2eNj9ns1
By James Andrews (Mar 4, 2015)
Local government spending on food safety and sanitation programs may significantly influence the number of illnesses occurring in the surrounding areas, according to a new study led by researchers from the University of Washington School of Nursing.
The study examined 11 years of data collected from county health departments in the states of Washington and New York, finding that infection rates from two harmful pathogens, Salmonella and Cryptosporidium, correlated with spending on public health programs.
In Washington state, cuts to health spending were found to correlate with increasing Salmonella infections, said Betty Bekemeier, Ph.D., associate professor of nursing at the UW and lead author of the study.
In New York, the same trend was observed with Cryptosporidium infections, which are often associated with sanitation concerns.
The researchers looked at rates of infections for the seven most commonly reported foodborne diseases over the 11-year period and compared that to trends in funding for a number of health programs related to food and water safety: food safety education programs, enforcement of regulations, food-handler permits, restaurant inspections, and health-related complaint investigations.
They also controlled for a series of variables that could impact the comparisons, such as levels of poverty, percentage of children in the population, and even the number of restaurants in each county.
“When you keep all of those things similar, we found that these local health department expenditures around food safety and sanitation had a significant relationship and could really predict levels of enteric disease,” Bekemeier told Food Safety News.
Aside from Salmonella and Cryptosporidium, the study also looked at E. coli, Campylobacter and Hepatitis A, among a few other foodborne pathogens, but researchers could not draw conclusions about those pathogens without more certainty in the data. Salmonella and Cryptosporidium, on the other hand, occurred at high enough rates to easily demonstrate a correlation.
“This is all pretty hard to do,” Bekemeier said. “These data are difficult to come by and aren’t often comparable from state to state. To be able to do this and have annual data for 11 years and get it as close to comparable as we’re able to really speaks to how much more we’d know if we had better data.”
The takeaway from the study: Cutting investments in public health may heighten the risk of foodborne and waterborne disease outbreaks.
“The costs of undermining prevention are huge in terms of the potential outcomes for the public’s health,” Bekemeier said.
Will Litigation Be The Tipping Point For Adopting E. coli Vaccines For Cattle?
Source : http://www.marlerblog.com/lawyer-oped/will-litigation-be-the-tipping-point-for-adopting-e-coli-vaccines-for-cattle/#.VPz2Ndj9ns1
By Bill Marler (Mar 3, 2015)
Recently, a Kansas State University Study examined again the effectiveness, through vaccination, of reducing pathogenic E. coli shedding in cattle. Schroeder, Ted C and Tonsor, Glynn T (2015) Agricultural and Food Economics: Market impacts of E. Coli vaccination in U.S. Feedlot cattle 3:7. This commercially available intervention has been used sparingly since 2010. But although it’s proven effectiveness has been shown to decrease the presence of pathogenic E. coli bacteria in cattle by as much as 98 percent, the cattle industry have largely refrained from adopting the practice of vaccinating herds.
Research shows that pathogenic E. coli bacteria cause more than 175,000 human illnesses per year with annual direct economic costs to the public ranging from $489 million to $983 million. The study found that if a vaccination program was adopted the cattle industry would face $100 million to $180 million in yearly costs. However, despite the economic and moral benefit generally, the cattle industry has not adopted vaccination because it bears little of the economic costs borne by the public as a whole and nothing – regulation or litigation – has forced a response.
Which begs the question, can and should the cattle industry be liable for the deaths and injuries that happen each year across the United States because of public consumption of E. coli-tainted food – be it beef contaminated during slaughter or foods – like leafy greens – contaminated environmentally through contact with cattle feces?
The question takes us back more than eighty years to the precedent setting opinion in the case of T. J. Hooper by Judge Learned Hand. In the case of T.J. Hooper, tugboat owners where held liable for the sinking of two barges. The plaintiffs in the case argued that the tugboat owners were liable for negligence because they had not properly equipped their boats with receiving sets, which would have allowed them to receive two weather predictions daily, and allowed them to avoid the storm that resulted in the sunken barges. The tugboat owners argued in opposition, and the Court agreed that there was no custom at all as to receiving sets; some tugboats had them and some did not; the most that could be urged was that they had not yet become a general practice. Yet, the Court, finding in favor of the plaintiffs, held that a lack of community standard was no defense and found the tugs liable because had they been properly equipped, they would have received the weather reports, and the injury was a direct consequence of the lacking receivers. See, The T. J. Hooper, 60 F.2d 737 (2d Cir. N.Y. 1932).
This T. J. Hooper principle supports the notion that a lack of industry standards for E. coli vaccinations in the cattle industry is no defense if that E. coli kills or injures someone. The cattle industry, like the tugboat owners, when faced with this argument, would plainly argue that they are not required to vaccinate their cattle and that there is no industry custom by which to shed light on their negligence in not vaccinating their herds. But these facts, and these arguments, are analogous to those surrounding the holding reached by Judge Learned Hand almost a century ago—a lack of industry standard is no defense for negligence.
And this brings me to my next point – a point emphasized again by Judge Learned Hand just 15 years after his opinion in T. J. Hooper – the calculus of negligence. If we identify, per Judge Learned Hand, the probability that someone becomes infected with E. coli, the gravity of the resulting injury (hospitalization and/or death), and the burden of adequate precautions (vaccination), there is almost no logic to the cattle industry refusing to vaccinate their cattle.
In a prevalence study concerning just the presence of E. coli O157:H7 in beef cattle during processing, 28 percent of fecal samples were positive. Robert O. Elder, et al. Correlation of Enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli O157 Prevalence in Feces, Hides, and Carcasses of Beef Cattle During Processing, Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. Mar 2000. 97(7): 2999-3003. And three other multistate studies reported the apparent prevalence of feedlots containing one or more infected cattle. These estimates were 63 percent, 100 percent, and 100 percent. Dargatz DA, Wells SJ, Thomas LA, et al. Factors associated with the presence of Escherichia coli O157 in feces of feedlot cattle. J. Food Prot. 1997; 60(5): 466-470; Hancock DD, Besser TE, Rice DH, et al. Multiple sources of Escherichia coli O157 in feedlots and dairy farms in the Northwestern USA. Prev. Vet. Med. 1998; 35: 11-19; Smith, D, Blackford M, Younts S, et al. 2001. Ecological relationships between the prevalence of cattle shedding E. coli O157:H7 and characteristics of the cattle or conditions of the feedlot pen. J. Food Prot. 64(12): 1899-1903. These studies show a high prevalence of E. coli O157:H7 amongst both beef and dairy cattle during processing.
When you consider the prevalence of E. coli amongst beef and dairy cattle with the injury likely to result to humans – $4.9 billion to $9.8 billion in economic costs every 10 years – against the burden of adequate protection – $1 billion to $1.8 billion in industry costs over the same 10 years – Learned Hand’s equation begs for vaccination of cattle against E. coli. And why the beef industry hasn’t recognized this and made vaccination common practice is baffling. But whatever it is, research is making it more and more clear that hundreds and thousands of deaths and injuries every year are preventable. And they are preventable at a cost much lower than what the injuries and deaths are currently costing the United States economy.
Given the clear value to vaccination and the cattle industries refusal to adopt it to protect the public, perhaps a new theory of liability has arisen? I look forward to asking the next cattle industry president while under on the stand and under oath – “Now, can you explain to the jury why you did not vaccinate your cattle before this child died?”
E. Coli Confirmed in Two California Elementary School Students
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2015/03/e-coli-confirmed-in-two-california-elementary-school-students/#.VPz3M9j9ns1
By News Desk | March 3, 2015
Two students at Reese Elementary School in Lodi, CA, have reportedly tested positive for E. coli, and a seven-year-old boy was hospitalized. Lab tests are being done to identify other potential cases.
http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photos-ecoli-bacteria-image20325533According to the San Joaquin County Health Department in Stockton, CA, an inspection of the school was inconclusive.
Questionnaires to pinpoint a common source of bacteria have been done but have not yet been completed by all the impacted individuals, indicated San Joaquin County Health Officer Alvaro Garza, M.D., MPH, in a statement released Monday.
“Environmental Health has made a site visit and found nothing unusual,” he noted, adding that, besides the two confirmed cases, there were additional lab results pending.
Meanwhile, the school’s principal said that immediate steps had been taken to prevent the spread of the bacterial infection.
“We have done the cleaning,” Gary Odell said. “We’ve had the public health department involved throughout. We’ve been in contact with the maintenance and operations department to make sure that everything that needs to happen here has happened to keep it clean and safe.”
Odell said calls went out to parents on Monday evening, and the school would also be sending out a letter to them on Tuesday.
The classroom the two students shared was thoroughly cleaned, and no E. coli was found in the school cafeteria.
The father of the hospitalized boy, a second-grader, said his son started having stomach cramps and diarrhea last week and was in a lot of pain before the diagnosis was made.
While some E. coli bacteria are harmless, some types can cause serious illness, or even death. The types of E. coli that can cause diarrhea can be transmitted through contaminated water or food, or through contact with animals or people.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), those of any age can become infected with E. coli. Very young children and the elderly are more likely to develop severe illness and hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) than others, but even healthy older children and young adults can become seriously ill.
CDC advises these ways to prevent E. coli infection: Wash your hands thoroughly after using the bathroom, changing diapers, before preparing or eating food, and after contact with animals or their environments. Cook meat thoroughly, avoid raw milk or other unpasteurized dairy products and juices, prevent cross-contamination in food preparation areas by washing everything after contact with raw meat, and avoid swallowing water when swimming or playing.
Kansas Institute Moves Shigella Vaccine Out for Clinical Trials
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2015/03/kansas-vaccine-institute-moves-shigella-vaccine-out-for-clinical-trials/#.VPz3WNj9ns1
By News Desk (Mar 3, 2015)
A vaccine for Shigella developed by scientists at the University of Kansas (KU) and Oklahoma State University (OSU) will go through Phase I clinical trials at a medical center in the Baltimore, MD, area later this year.
http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photography-doctor-give-injection-to-boy-s-arm-image33311792The trials are a milestone for research now centered at the new Kansas Vaccine Institute (KVI) at the University of Kansas School of Pharmacy.
The KVI, established last summer with financing which included state funding, brought former KU students William and Wendy Picking back to the Lawrence, KS, campus to work on vaccines for bacterial pathogens responsible for digestive diseases.
Dr. William D. Picking was recruited from OSU, where he headed the Microbiology Department for five years, to be the KVI’s first director. He was also named Foundation Distinguished Professor in the Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry when he returned to KU.
At the same time, Dr. Wendy Picking, an associate professor at OSU, was named a professor at KU. Her research interests are vaccine development — especially for the children of low-income countries, enteric bacterial pathogens, and type III secretion system.
The patents associated with the development of the Shigella vaccine will be shared by KU and OSU. Others that are in the works will be held entirely by KU and its KVI partners, which include Kansas State University, the Kansas City Area Life Science Institute and various KU centers.
While not as far along, the Pickings are also focused on a vaccine for Salmonella. Among the developed world’s nasty foodborne diseases, Shigella and Salmonella cut short the lives millions of children in the Third World.
Wendy Picking, KVI’s lead researcher, calls Shigella “a leading cause of mortality and morbidity in kids two and five years old in the developing world.” The pathogen leads to dysentery in areas of Asia and Africa where clean water is often in short supply.
William Picking, KVI’s director, says the clinical trials for the Shigella vaccine will pinpoint dosages and detect any side effects. KVI was established to help move basic research along to commercial uses.
The goal is to improve both human and animal health around the world. He says another goal of the vaccine center will be to educate the public on the value of vaccines, including their benefits and safety.
The Pickings are native Kansans who met on the KU campus, where they remained long enough to obtain their doctoral degrees.
Vilsack Commits to Exempting Mechanically Tenderized Beef Regulation
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2015/vilsack-commits-to-exempting-mechanically-tenderized-beef-regulation/
By Linda Larsen (Mar 2, 2015)
According to Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack said last week in a congressional hearing that he may suspend the Uniform Labeling Regulation so that the rule for labeling mechanically tenderized beef (MTB) products can be issued. Mechanically tenderized beef is whole cuts of beef that have been pierced with fine blades or needles to break up the connective tissue in the meat. This action introduces bacteria to the interior of the cut, and poses a food safety hazard if the meat is not cooked to 160°F.
The MTB labeling rule has been pending for 10 years. Meanwhile, there have been food poisoning outbreaks linked to this product. Two outbreaks, one in 2003 and the other in 2009, caused 174 illnesses and killed one person. And remember that these numbers are only about 10 to 25% of all actual food poisoning cases that are reported to health officials.
The mechanically tenderized beef label wasn’t finalized before the end of 2014, so most people thought these products wouldn’t be labeled until 2018. Vilsack told reporters after the hearing “we’re going to try to move that up. I think we’re going to move it up to 2016.”The rule is now at the Office of Management and Budget. DeLauro wrote a letter to Shaun Donovan, Director of OMB in November 2014, stating that “a 2008 study conducted by USDA indicated that approximately 50 million pounds of mechanically tenderized beef products were sold every month. These products do not currently have to be labeled so consumers do not know that they are different, present different risks, and require different preparation than whole cuts of beef.”
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