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FoodHACCP Newsletter
04/06 2015 ISSUE:644

FDA Weighs in on Blue Bell Listeria Issues
Source :
By Bill Marler (April 5, 2015)
On April 3, 2015, the CDC recommended that consumers do not eat any Blue Bell brand products made at the Blue Bell Creameries Broken Arrow, Okla., production facility and that retailers and institutions do not sell or serve them.
Blue Bell brand products made at the Broken Arrow, Okla., production facility can be identified by checking for letters “O,” “P,” “Q,” “R,” “S,” and “T” following the “code date” printed on the bottom of the product package.
According to the CDC, this advice is especially important for people at higher risk for listeriosis, including pregnant women, adults 65 and older, and people with weakened immune systems.
FDA is conducting an investigation at the Blue Bell Creameries plant in Broken Arrow, Okla.
On April 3, 2015, Blue Bell Creameries announced that the firm will voluntarily suspend operations at its Broken Arrow, Okla., plant.

Marler Clark, The Food Safety Law Firm, is the nation’s leading law firm representing victims of Listeria outbreaks. The Listeria lawyers of Marler Clark have represented thousands of victims of Listeria and other foodborne illness outbreaks 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 Listeria lawyers have litigated Listeria cases stemming from outbreaks traced to a variety of foods, such as caramel apples, cantaloupe, cheese, celery and milk.

Keeping food safe and honest
Source :
By Karen Stabiner, New York Times (April 5, 2015)
Labs check food for fraud and contamination
Mansour Samadpour makes his way through the supermarket like a detective working a crime scene: slow, watchful, up one aisle and down the next. A clerk mistakenly assumes that he needs help, but Samadpour brushes him off. He knows exactly what he’s doing.
He buys organic raspberries that might test positive for pesticides and a fillet of wild-caught fish that might be neither wild nor the species listed on the label. He buys beef and pork ground fresh at the market. He is disappointed that there is no caviar, which might turn out to be something cheaper than sturgeon roe.
Typical shoppers see food when they go to the market. Samadpour, the CEO of IEH Laboratories (short for Institute for Environmental Health), sees mystery, if not downright fraud. On this visit, he is shopping for goods he can test at his labs to demonstrate to a reporter that what you see on market shelves may not be what you get.
While he’s out of the office, he receives a call and dispatches a team on a more pressing expedition: They need to buy various products that contain cumin because a client just found possible evidence of peanuts, a powerful allergen, in a cumin-based spice mix. The client wants a definitive answer before someone gets sick.
Suppliers, manufacturers and markets depend on Samadpour’s network of labs to test food for inadvertent contamination and deliberate fraud or to verify if a product is organic or free of genetically modified organisms. Consumers bet their very health on responsible practices along the way.
The annual cost of food-borne illnesses in the United States is $14.1 billion to $16.3 billion, according to a 2013 analysis by the U.S. Agriculture Department. The government has called for a shift from reaction, which usually means a large recall after people have fallen ill or died, to prevention, to reduce the number of such episodes.
Samadpour, who opened IEH’s first lab in 2001 with six employees, now employs over 1,500 people at 116 labs in the U.S. and Europe.
The two low-slung wooden buildings that house IEH’s labs at its base in Seattle feel more like a high school chemistry lab than the center of a national food security network; there’s an acrid smell, and the counters are crammed with vials of various shapes and colors, centrifuge machines and lined notebooks full of data entries.
This is where analysts coax DNA out of a tiny sample of whatever is being tested. For lethal threats, such as E. coli 1057 in ground beef, the detection process involves a grim recipe of ground beef and a broth infused with nutrients that E. coli likes to eat and putting it in a warm place to rest for 10 hours — at which point a single E. coli cell, if it exists, will have spawned 1 million easy-to-detect siblings. For fraud cases, the process is somewhat simpler; lab technicians run a DNA test or chemical analysis to confirm a sample’s identity.
Cheap technology has made this kind of testing possible. “Ten years ago, it would have taken millions of dollars to sequence a genome,” Samadpour said. “Now it takes $100. We do thousands a year.”
IEH’s clients are primarily vendors who supply retailers and manufacturers, and they generally prefer to remain anonymous for fear of indicating to consumers that they have a specific worry about safety.
Costco is one of the retailers that use IEH’s services, and the company doesn’t mind talking about it.
“We have to inspect what we expect,” says Craig Wilson, the company’s vice president for quality assurance and food safety, meaning that products have to live up to their labels, particularly items in Costco’s own Kirkland Signature line.
After a 2006 outbreak of E. coli tied to Earthbound Farm’s ready-to-eat bagged spinach, in which three people died and more than 200 became ill, Wilson, one of Earthbound’s customers, instituted what he calls a “bag and hold” program for all of Costco’s fresh greens suppliers. He required the suppliers to test their produce and not ship it until they had the results of the tests.
Earthbound responded to the outbreak with a “multihurdle program that places as many barriers to food-borne illness as we can,” said Gary Thomas, the company’s senior vice president for integrated supply chain. Earthbound now conducts 200,000 tests annually on its ready-to-eat greens.
Not everyone was as quick to embrace change; some growers were concerned about losing shelf life while they waited for results. Wilson was unmoved by that argument.
“If you can test and verify microbial safety, what do I care if I lose shelf life?” he said.
The Food Safety Modernization Act of 2011, intended to improve food safety practices, has been mired in missed deadlines, which have been attributed to food industry concerns about overregulation and to an unrealistic timeline, given the scope of the overhaul. The delays led to a lawsuit by the Center for Food Safety and the Center for Environmental Health, two advocacy groups. The Food and Drug Administration and the Office of Management and Budget now operate under a court-ordered schedule that requires regulations to be issued in late 2015 and 2016.
The FDA currently stops short of requiring produce tests, although it conducts its own “surveillance sampling,” according to Juli Putnam, an agency spokeswoman. The agency sees two drawbacks to mandatory tests: “A negative product test result does not necessarily indicate the absence of a hazard,” Putnam wrote in an email, because contamination might show up in another part of a field, and conducting more tests would increase the costs that are passed on to the consumer.
The agency is focused instead on defining minimum safety standards for “potential sources of microbiological contamination such as agricultural water, worker health and hygiene, and animals in the growing area,” she wrote (though some preventive testing is conducted on sprouts).
Wilson says he uses government guidelines “as a minimum standard, and I always try to go above and beyond that.”
DNATrek, a newcomer to the field, sees opportunity in another aspect of food safety testing: the need to quickly pinpoint the source of a pathogen outbreak, to avoid delays and unnecessarily broad recalls.
Anthony Zografos, the company’s CEO, says it soon plans to introduce a test called DNATrax, which will be able to identify the source of contaminated produce within an hour, narrowing recall efforts “to a specific field or packer or distributor.” The test relies on tracer DNA that is dissolved in the liquid coating applied to many types of produce after harvest or added to prepared foods; it provides a unique genetic fingerprint.
As with most expanding technologies, there are believers and skeptics. David Gombas, senior vice president for food safety and technology at the 111-year-old United Fresh Produce Association, echoes the position of the FDA: Testing is not a sufficient answer.
“Microbiological testing provides a false sense of security,” Gombas said. “They can find one dead salmonella cell on a watermelon, but what does that tell you about the rest of the watermelon in the field? Nothing.”
Testing has its place, he says, but as backup for “good practices and environmental monitoring,” which includes things as diverse as employee hygiene and site visits.
Samadpour says sampling “can reduce the risk tremendously but can never 100 percent eliminate it.” But he will take a tremendous reduction over a food crisis any day.
IEH tested the contents of Samadpour’s grocery cart:
The organic raspberries showed 0.12 parts per million of spinosyn A, an insecticide with a tolerance limit of 0.035 ppm on organic crops and 0.7 ppm on nonorganic berries. Samadpour assumed that was the result of an errant breeze from a nearby nonorganic field.
The beef and pork were cross-contaminated — each had amounts of the other — a common occurrence, he says, when markets grind first one batch of meat and then the other. These were small amounts as well, but their presence could upset a Muslim or Jewish customer who does not eat pork, or a Hindu who does not eat beef. The fish was what the label said it was.
As for the cumin and the peanuts, the FDA posted a handful of product recalls, all of them involving cumin and peanuts.

Lack of food safety killing 2.2m every year, say experts
Source :
By (April 05, 2015)
Lack of government policies on food and water safety is causing the death of 2.2 million people, including children, every year across the globe, health experts said on Sunday.
They said the use of pesticides and fertilizers in the past 50 years has grown nearly 170 times.
As a consequence, persistent residues of the chemicals contaminate food and disperse in the environment and find their way into the food chain.
"There has been rampant use of chemicals resulting in several short-term and long-term effects on the human body. High use of artificial fertilizers and pesticides while growing food grains results in food-borne diseases," Behram Pardiwalla, consultant internal medicine at Wockhardt hospital, said in a statement.
He said tackling the problem was necessary because toxic compounds like pesticides, heavy metals and toxins of fungal or bacterial origin could also contaminate the food during manufacture, storage or transportation.
Observing that unsafe food kills an estimated 700,000 children in Southeast Asia alone every year, he said: "Even if the food is free of bacteria, viruses, parasites and chemicals, other contaminants, additives and adulterants can cause over 200 diseases ranging from diarrhoea to cancer."
Pradeep Gadge, consultant diabetologist at Shreya diabetes centre, said: "The lack of surveillance by the government on food adulteration is another big issue that is contributing to the food poisoning among people.
"Adulteration of milk is very common. Some milk suppliers add salt to slow down the decomposition process of milk. Similarly cane sugar is often added to milk. Consumption of such milk leads to multiple health hazards especially in diabetic and blood pressure patients.
"Kidney patients and blood pressure patients suffer serious consequences due to the salt content of such adulterated milk," he said.
Apart from urging the governments of the countries to ensure food safety, they also said that there was a need to work with NGOs to raise awareness among the people.
The WHO has designated food safety as the theme for World Health Day-2015 on April 7.
In a statement, WHO's South Asian director Poonam Khetrapal said food safety was one of the key focus areas under the International Health Regulations -- IHR 2005 -- which include all public health emergencies of international concern that involve contaminated food and outbreaks of food-borne diseases.
She said WHO and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) have established the International Food Safety Authorities Network (INFOSAN) to rapidly share information during food safety emergencies.
Saurabh Arora, a pharmaceutical experts and founder of said there were 306 disease outbreaks due to food contamination in 2014 alone.
"Food that is produced and processed at one place may become contaminated at the source, but affect the health of the consumer, located at the other side of the globe," he said in a statement.

U.S. Government Sues Wholesome Soy After Listeria Outbreak
Source :
By News Desk (April 4, 2015) U.S. government has filed a lawsuit against Wholesome Soy Products of Chicago, attempting to stop the company from distributing food products after an outbreak of Listeria was linked to the company’s mung bean and soybean sprouts.
Last fall, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that it was collaborating with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and two states to investigate a multi-state outbreak of infections linked to Listeria monocytogenes.
Ultimately, there were five reported cases in Illinois and Michigan. All five people were hospitalized, and two deaths were reported.
Wholesome Soy Products recalled mung bean sprouts last Aug. 28 after FDA isolated Listeria bacteria from samples during a routine inspection. Subsequent FDA inspections in August and October 2014 found unsanitary conditions at the company’s facility.
Whole genome sequences of the Listeria strains isolated from Wholesome Soy’s mung bean sprouts and environmental isolates collected at the firm’s production facility were found to be highly related to sequences of Listeria strains isolated from the five people who became ill between June and August 2014, CDC noted.
“Although limited information is available about the specific sprout products that ill people consumed, the whole genome sequencing findings, together with the sprout consumption history of two patients and inspection findings at the firm, suggest that these illnesses could be related to products from Wholesome Soy Products, Inc.,” CDC’s report stated.
On Nov. 7, 2014, Wholesome Soy Products agreed to close their facility and cease production and distribution of sprouts.
The government’s lawsuit filed on Friday, April 3, stated that although the facility is not currently producing and distributing food, there’s nothing prohibiting them from resuming production “without adequate corrective actions.”
While the company has taken some corrective actions, “they have failed to institute practices and procedures necessary to ensure that the facility can receive, process, manufacture, prepare, pack, hold, and distribute food under sanitary conditions and that L. mono is eradicated from the facility,” the suit read.
The government believes that unless restrained by the court, Wholesome Soy will violate the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act again.


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An E. coli O157:H7 outbreak that cost a school district $6,100,000
Source :
By Bruce Clark (April 4, 2015)
After a six week trial and four years of appeals, the children received compensation.
On Thursday, October 15 1998 the Benton-Franklin Health Department (BFHD) was notified of two hospitalized children at Kennewick General Hospital with bloody diarrhea, one of whom was culture confirmed with infection of E. coli O157:H7. On the same day a clinician in Kennewick, Washington notified BFHD of two additional cases of bloody diarrhea in children. BFHD staff interviewed parents of the four children and determined that they all attended the Finley Elementary School (FES).  As the average incubation period for E. coli O157:H7 ranges from 3 to 8 days, exposure to the agent most likely occurred sometime during the school week of October 5-9.
On October 16 Dr. Dan Jernigan at the Washington State Department of Health (WDOH) was notified by the Benton-Franklin Health District ~FHD) of the cluster of cases. Dr. Lauren Ball and Patti Waller, WDOH epidemiologists, were assigned to the BFHD outbreak investigation team. This report summarizes the findings.
Finley is located in a predominately rural area in east Benton County. Family farms/pastures, irrigation systems, and residential water supplied by private wells are common in the community.  The Finley School District includes a high school (grades 9-12), a middle school (grades 6-8) and an elementary school (pre-school classes and grades K-S). The elementary school serves 466 students and employs 55 staff.
Both breakfast and lunch are served at the schools.  Typically meals are partially prepared in a central kitchen located at the high school and delivered to each of the schools in the morning for additional cooking and preparation for serving.  Water is supplied to the elementary school via a private well system.  The BFHD inspects the system regularly. Sewage disposal is via a private drain field.
Surveillance and Case Definition
On Friday October 16, 1998 the Finley School District telephoned parents/guardians of all children who had been absent from school to inform them of illness occurring among Finley students.  Parents of absent children were advised to seek medical advice if their children were experiencing a diarrheal illness or other flu-like illness.  Informational letters from the school district were sent to all parents of children attending Finley Elementary notifying them that the communicable illness E. coli O157:H7 had been diagnosed in some FES children.  These letters included educational information describing possible sources of infection, clinical symptoms, and the possibility of person-to-person transmission. Information on preventing E. coli infections was also disseminated widely by BFHD through local media, local physicians, and through the school district.  In addition, the school district sent a letter to all residents of the Finley community to inform the public of the outbreak.
A confirmed case was defined as a Finley resident or visitor with culture confirmed E. coli O157:H7 diarrhea occurring after October 1, 1998 and epidemiologic linkage to FES.
A probable case was defined as a Finley resident or visitor with bloody diarrhea of unknown origin occurring after October 1, 1998, and/or complications of hemolytic uremic syndrome with epidemiologic linkage to FES.
Epidemiologic Investigation
Initial interviews with parents of patients at an area clinician’s office and at the hospital revealed that all patients attended a Finley area school.  BFHD staff met with key personnel from the school and the Finley School District to discuss the cluster and possible causes.  As noted, exposure to E. coli O157:H7 was thought to have taken place at the school during the week of October 5-9. As some of the ill children attend school only on Tuesdays and Thursdays, events that occurred on Tuesday, October 6 and Thursday, October 8, were of particular interest.  A ground beef taco lunch was served on Tuesday, October 6.  A ham and cheese sandwich was served on Thursday, October 8.
Case-Control Study
A case-control study was conducted to compare children with confirmed or probable E. coh O157:H7 (cases) to a pair of randomly selected, classroom-matched classmates who did not develop a diarrheal illness (controls). Most cases were interviewed in-person while controls were interviewed by telephone using a structured questionnaire. A section of the questionnaire focused on the menu items served by the school district as reported by FES officials to BFHD.  Factors evaluated included age, grade, classroom and exposure to such risk factors as foods eaten in and out of school, contact with livestock (particularly bovine), potable water, other water exposures, contact with diapered children, travel, and other possible exposures.
Results of Epidemiological Investigation
After public notification of illness occurring at Finley Elementary School, children from the Finley area with complaints of illness or diarrhea were seen at area hospital emergency rooms, urgent care facilities and by local private providers. Active surveillance resulted in 9 confirmed cases E. coli O157:H7 and 2 probable cases being identified. All were students at FES. Epidemiologic curves are shown in Appendix C.  There were cases in all grades, except grade 4. Cases were distributed among eight of eleven K-S homerooms.  The mean case age was 8, median case age was 9, and the mode was 10 years old Thirty-three percent (n=4) of the cases occurred among children in the fifth grade.  One fifth grade classroom had three ill children.
Environmental Investigation
Officials from BFHD conducted facility inspections, obtained food and water samples, and interviewed district, elementary school, and food service staff Appendix D contains the report of the environmental investigation conducted by BFHD.  Briefly, common food stock is served to all schools in the district.  Typically, meals served in the Finley School District are partially prepared in a central kitchen located at Finley High School and transported to the middle school and elementary school via vans which may or may not be equipped for hot holding of foods. Additional cooking and/or preparation may take place at each school depending on the food item.  Different hot holding techniques are used at the various Finley schools when the hot meal arrives from the central kitchen.  There is variability in the way meals are served. Some food items are served by food service personnel, some items are served by student helpers, and some items are self-serve.
In regards to the ground beef tacos served on Tuesday October 6 the following points were noted:
1.The ground beef used for the tacos was from frozen stock, dated October 1997.
2.The ground beef was prepared in one large batch in a steam-jacketed kettle at the central kitchen.
3.On this particular day, there was a slight variation in the method of ground beef preparation in that the meat was not rinsed after cooking. The meat was not rinsed because it was reportedly lean and excessive fat was not a problem.
4.After cooking, the taco beef was portioned out into serving pans and delivered to the various schools.
5.The meat delivered to the elementary school was transported in a district van, which does not have hot holding capacity.
6.On Tuesday October 6, the ground beef at the elementary school was stored in warming bins prior to service. At the other schools the trays of meat were placed on the stovetop and the burners were lit to keep the food warm.
The Health District also noted that at the elementary school the ham and cheese sandwiches served on Thursday, October 8 were prepared by heating them in the warming bins only. At the other district schools, hot sandwiches are prepared in regular ovens. Also, at the time of the outbreak, the elementary school had been conducting a milk promotion/contest. Winners would select a cookie out of a common repository. There were no records of the Lucky Milk promotion winners.
Water is supplied to the elementary school via a private well system.  Sewage disposal is via a private drain field.  No water quality violations prior to or during the outbreak were noted.
Laboratory Investigation
Samples of leftovers and other food items were cultured for E. coli O157:H7.  Samples of cooked taco meat left over from the meal served on Tuesday October 6, 1998 tested negative for E. coli O157:H7.  Gross examination of the meat, however, revealed “golf ball” sized chunks with pink, undercooked centers.  Other food items tested include samples from one 9-pound chub of raw ground beef from the lot used to prepare taco meal, lettuce, cheese, tomatoes, ham, and chocolate milk.  All food items tested negative for E. coli O157:H7.
Potable water samples were collected by the Finley School District and analyzed by the BFHD laboratory immediately after the outbreak was detected.  These samples were negative for fecal coliforms.
USDA conducted sampling and analysis on the frozen/raw ground beef left over from the same lot served at FES on October 6, 1998. Results of these tests were negative for E. coli O157:H7.
Other Studies
Pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) was performed on E. coli O157:H7 isolates from confirmed case patients.  Comparisons were made between the isolates from samples obtained from patients in this cluster.  Seven out of nine confirmed cases had isolates of E. coli O157:H7 submitted for analysis.  All seven confirmed cases were infected with identical strains of E. coli O157:H7.  The FES subtype was then compared to those subtypes from previous outbreaks contained in databases maintained by the WDOH and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  The subtype identified in the FES cluster did not match any subtypes from recent cases in the Washington State database nor the CDC database.
One probable case and a single suspect secondary case (see Addendum) had frozen sera available for immunologic testing. These samples were forwarded to the CDC for analysis. Both samples were positive for acute and convalescent antibodies to E. coil O157:H7.
Prevention measures and other actions in response to this outbreak included:
1.Immediate community notification and follow-up.  Phone calls, letters, media reporting, and BFHD representation at meetings accomplished this with the community (October 29, 1998) and the school district.
2.BFHD notified the WDOH and accepted offer of assistance.
3.BFHD disseminated educational information to health care providers, food handlers, and to the general public.
4.Hand washing workshops were conducted by BFHD for all students, teachers, and staff at FES.  Hand washing workshops were also conducted for all Finley School District food service employees. These workshops required active participation of attendees.
5.Public education and food safety control measures are being reinforced in the communities served by the BFHD to minimize possible exposures to E. coil 0157:H7 bacteria.
The results of the epidemiologic investigations did not indicate any statistically significant associations between illness and a particular meal, food item, or other risk factor.  Microbiologic cultures of food and water samples were negative for E. coli O157:H7.  However, the results of this investigation indicate that there was a point source exposure to E. coli O157:H7 that occurred at Finley Elementary School.  As no other common school activity was identified other than eating at the school cafeteria, it is reasonable to conclude that a meal served at the school was the likely source of illness.  Cattle are the known reservoir of E. coli O157:H7.  Thus, it is likely that consuming the ground beef served in the tacos was the vehicle.
Findings supporting this conclusion are:
1.The confirmed and probable cases were restricted to the elementary school.
2.Results of the PFGE analysis of E. coli O157:H7 isolates from confirmed case patients indicate that an identical subtype of E. coil infected the confirmed cases.
3.No confirmed or probable cases were reported from other schools in the district.
4.No teachers or staff reported illness to BFHD or WDOH. Most staff did not eat food supplied from the student serving line.
5.No confirmed or probable cases were reported from the community at large which matched the FES subtype.
6.Results of the environmental investigation suggest that although similar menu items and common food stock were served to all schools in the district, there were differences in food preparation techniques, transportation time, and hot holding techniques between the elementary school and the other schools in the district. In particular, deficiencies in the transport method had been noted in previous inspections.
7.Results of the case-control study suggest that the cases did not have common risky exposures outside of the elementary school.
8.Results of the epidemiologic studies did not reveal any special school activities (birthday parties, field trips, etc.) that could account for possible exposures during this time period.
This investigation has several limitations. The cohort study relied on school lunch payment records and validity of these records was not checked. The cohort was very homogeneous in terms of exposures and demographic characteristics. The case-control study utilized classroom-matched controls. This sampling strategy could have introduced bias secondary to over-matching on age. Recall bias is a major concern in this study and can be contributed to the amount of time between the exposure and the interview and to the young age of both cases and controls. Early in the investigation preliminary evidence indicated that this outbreak may have been related to the taco meal served on October 6. This information was publicized and may have also introduced bias.
Ground beef is a known vehicle for E. coli Ol57:H7 and this investigation noted differences in the preparation, handling, and transport of meat, which may have allowed for uneven cooking, uneven cooling, and uneven reheating at the elementary school. This outbreak and the resulting investigation highlight the importance of regular inspections of institutional kitchens and the need for ongoing training of food service workers.
Notification of Suspect Secondary Case
In late October the BFHD was notified of a two-year-old female taken to the Kennewick General Hospital Emergency Room on October 28, 1998.  The patient’s status was critical and she was transferred to Children’s Hospital of Seattle where she was diagnosed with and treated for hemolytic uremic syndrome secondary to hemorrhagic colitis of unknown origin.  BFHD interviewed the child’s mother to determine possible epidemiologic linkage to the FES cluster. The results of these interviews revealed a sibling who attended FES.  However, it was unclear to BFHD whether this sibling experienced any illness or had contacts with any case patients during the first two weeks of October.  The patient was categorized as a suspect secondary case.  The treating physician for antibody testing by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention obtained serum samples.  The sample was strongly positive for acute and convalescent antibodies to E. coil O157:H7.

What to Know About Shigella
Source :
By Denis Stearns (April 4, 2015)
Shigella is a species of enteric bacteria that causes disease in humans and other primates. [16, 20] The disease caused by the ingestion of Shigella bacteria is referred to as shigellosis, which is most typically associated with diarrhea and other gastrointestinal symptoms. [11, 16] “Shigella infection is the third most common cause of bacterial gastroenteritis in the United States, after Campylobacter infection and Salmonella infection and ahead of E. coli O157 infection.” [19]
The global burden of shigellosis has been estimated at 165 million cases per year, of which 163 million are in developing countries. [23] More than one million deaths occur in the developing world yearly due to Shigella infection. [23, 29] By one estimate, Shigella infections are responsible for 300,000 illnesses and 600 deaths per year in the United States. [25] By another estimate, each year 450,000 Americans are infected with Shigella, causing 6,200 hospitalizations and 70 deaths. [27]
In general, Shigella is one of the most communicable and severe forms of the bacterial-induced diarrheas. [18] No group of individuals is immune to shigellosis, but certain individuals are at increased risk. [16] Small children acquire Shigella at the highest rate, and [24, 28] persons infected with HIV experience shigellosis much more commonly than other individuals. [4]
Shigella is easily spread person-to-person because of its relatively tiny (compared to other bacteria) infectious dose. [16, 23] Infection can occur after ingestion of fewer than 100 bacteria. [1, 16, 17] Another reason Shigella so easily cause infection is because the bacteria thrive in the human intestine and are commonly spread both by person-to-person contact and through the contamination of food. [11, 22, 32]
The Discovery and Naming of Shigella
The several types of Shigella bacteria have been named after the lead workers who discovered each one. [11, 16, 20]   The first bacterium to be discovered, Shigella dysentariae, was named after Kiyoshi Shiga, a Japanese scientist who discovered it in 1896 while investigating a large epidemic of dysentery in Japan. [22, 37] The bacterium was also referred to more generally as the dysentery bacillus (the term “bacillus” referring to a genus of Gram-positive, rod-shaped bacteria of which Shigella is a member). [37]
Dr. Shiga dedicated his life to eradicating the disease. In 1936, while an honored guest at the 300th anniversary of the founding of Harvard University, he gave a speech that began as follows:
The discovery of the dysentery bacillus stirred my young heart with hopes of eradicating the disease…Many thousands still suffer from this disease every year, and the light of hope that once burned so brightly has faded as a dream of a summer night. This sacred fire must not burn out. [37]
Dr. Shiga died at the age of 85 years on 25 January 1957. Shigella has not yet been eradicated.
In a summary published annually, the CDC provides an overview of the classification of various types (species) of Shigella bacteria, as follows:
There are 4 major subgroups of Shigella, designated A, B, C and D, and 44 recognized serotypes. Subgroups A, B, C and D have historically been treated as species: subgroup A for Shigella dysenteriae; subgroup B for Shigella flexneri; subgroup C for Shigella boydii and subgroup D for Shigella sonnei. These subgroups and serotypes are differentiated from one another by their biochemical traits (ability to ferment D-mannitol) and antigenic properties. The most recently recognized serotype belongs to subgroup C (S. boydii). [12]
S. sonnei, also known as Group D Shigella, accounts for over two-thirds of shigellosis in the United States. Shigella flexneri, or group B Shigella, accounts for almost all the rest. [11, 19] More specifically, according to one recent study, “From 1989 to 2002, S. flexneri accounted for 18.4% of Shigella isolates submitted to CDC. [4] From 1973 to 1999, only 49 S. flexneri-associated outbreaks of foodborne disease were reported.” [32] In contrast, in developing countries, S. flexneri is the most predominant cause of shigellosis, but S. dysinteriae type 1 is still a frequent cause of epidemic throughout the developing world. [1, 16, 23, 37]
The Incidence of Shigella Infection
The number of shigellosis cases reported annually to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has varied over the past several years, from more than 17,000 during 1978–2003, to an all-time low of 14,000 in 2004, to almost 20,000 in 2007. [11, 19] But a majority of cases go undiagnosed or unreported. [12, 16, 37] In one study done in Oregon, 430 confirmed Shigella cases from July 1995 through June 1998 were examined. [30] Among the several findings about those most likely to fall ill was the following:
Of 430 isolates, 410 were identified to the species level: Shigella sonnei accounted for 55% of isolates, and Shigella flexneri, for 40%. The overall annual incidence of shigellosis was 4.4 cases per 100,000 population. Children aged [less than] 5 years (annual incidence, 19.6 cases per 100,000 population) and Hispanics (annual incidence, 28.4 cases per 100,000 population) were at highest risk. [30]
The CDC estimates that 450,000 total cases of shigellosis occur in the U.S. every year. [4, 11, 21] Shigellosis is also characterized by seasonality, with the largest percentage of reported cases occurring between July and October, and the smallest proportion occurring in January, February, and March. [19] Sporadic (or non-outbreak) infections account for the majority of cases and, in general, the exact means by which persons are infected (risk factors) are not yet well documented or understood. [21, 36]
Shigella is an especially common cause of disease among young children, in large part because it is difficult to control the spread of the bacteria in daycare settings. [16, 28] The symptoms of shigellosis vary so widely that children shedding Shigella in their stool may exhibit no symptoms of infection. A person infected with Shigella can be asymptomatic (show no symptoms of illness), suffer from moderate to severe diarrhea, or suffer complications up to and including death. [11, 17, 26]
More on Incidence Rates and How Shigella is Transmitted
As previously noted, Shigella species are transmitted by the fecal-oral route, and most infections are transmitted from person to person, reflecting the low infectious dose. [19] As also noted, as few as ten Shigella bacteria can result in clinical infection. [17] Where persons who are infected may be present, the risk of transmission and infection increases with poor hand hygiene, ingestion of contaminated food or water, inadequate sanitation and toileting, overcrowding, and sexual contact. [4, 14, 21, 24, 28] Shigella bacteria are present in the stools of infected persons while they are sick and for up to a week or two afterwards. [11, 16, 17] It is estimated that up 80% of all infection is the result of person-to-person transmission. [17]
Because of its quite common person-to-person spread, shigellosis has long been associated with outbreaks in daycare centers, nursing homes, institutional settings (like prison), and cruise ships. [11, 14, 17, 23, 24] Explaining the significance of daycare centers as a source of Shigella infection, one well-respected study explains as follows:
High shigellosis rates in children are attributable to several factors. Young children are unable to practice good personal hygiene and have not yet acquired immunity to S. sonnei. The infectious dose is as low as 10–200 organisms, and person-to-person transmission is highly effective. Day-care centers play an important role in the person-to-person spread of shigellosis and its subsequent dissemination in communities. Inadequate hand washing, diapering practices, and fecal contamination of water-play areas, such as kiddie pools, have been associated with S. sonnei transmission in day-care centers. [19]
Several studies have demonstrated an increased frequency of shigellosis cases in young adult men residing in urban settings who have little, if any, exposure to these traditionally recognized risk groups. [4, 36] Although some of these studies indicated that sex between men can be a risk-factor, most of these studies occurred before the HIV epidemic. [4, 23]
Shigella infections also may be acquired from eating contaminated food. A study published in 2010 estimated more than one-third of U.S. shigellosis cases annually might be caused by the consumption of contaminated food. [21] In the United States, incidence of foodborne illness is documented through FoodNet, a reporting system used by public health agencies that captures foodborne illness in over 13% of the population. [8, 9] Of the 10 pathogens tracked by FoodNet, Salmonella, Campylobacter, and Shigella are responsible for most cases of foodborne illness. [27] An estimated 20% of the total number of cases of shigellosis involve food as the vehicle of transmission. [27]
In one oft-cited study summarizing food-related illness and death in the United States, the following synopsis is set forth at the end, summarizing Shigella.
Reported cases: Outbreak-related cases based on reports to CDC, 1983-1992. Passive surveillance estimate based on average number of cases reported annually to CDC, 1992-1997. Active surveillance estimate based on extrapolation of average 1996-1997 FoodNet rate to the 1997 U.S. population.
Total cases: Because Shigella frequently causes bloody diarrhea, total cases assumed to be 20 times the number of reported cases, based on similarity to E. coli O157:H7.
Hospitalization rate: Based on hospitalization rate for culture-confirmed cases reported to FoodNet, 1996-1997.
Case-fatality rate: Average case-fatality rate among cases reported to FoodNet, 1996-1997 (23,24). Percent foodborne: Assumed to be 20%. Although most cases are due to person-to-person transmission (60), foodborne outbreaks are responsible for a substantial number of cases [27]
According to the CDC, Shigella is the third most common pathogen transmitted through food. In FoodNet surveillance areas in 2008, the rate of Shigella was 6.6 per 100,000 population, exceeded only by Salmonella (15.2/100,000) and Campylobacter (12.7/100,000). [10] During 2006, public health officials reported a total of 1,270 foodborne-related outbreaks from 48 states in the U.S. [9] Although Shigella was responsible for only 10 (1%) of those outbreaks, 183 confirmed cases of shigellosis were nonetheless reported. [9] This reporting rate contrasts with an average of 659 cases annually in the previous five years, making it potentially an aberration or outlier.
Shigella is also responsible for a substantial portion of foodborne outbreaks on cruise ships. [16, 34] In a review of cruise ship outbreaks worldwide over several years, 16% of outbreaks were attributed to Shigella, affecting over 2,000 passengers. [34] Sanitation violations related to food handling and communicable disease have decreased substantially, however, over the past 15 years. [14]
Symptom of Shigella Infection
Most people who are infected with Shigella develop diarrhea, fever, and stomach cramps after being exposed to the bacteria. [11, 16, 26] Symptoms may start 12 to 96 hours after exposure, usually within 1 to 3 days. [1, 16] Diarrhea may range from mild to severe, and it usually contains mucus. [16] When more severe, the diarrhea is bloody 25% to 50% of the time. [1, 16, 22] Rectal spasms, which are technically referred to as “tenesmus,” are common. [16]
Shigellosis usually resolves in 5 to 7 days. [1, 11, 26] A severe infection with high fever may be associated with seizures in children less than two years old. [16, 19] Some persons who are infected may have no symptoms at all, but may still pass the Shigella bacteria to others. [11, 17]
Persons with shigellosis in the U.S. do not often require hospitalization, although the hospitalization rate has been estimated to be in excess of 50,000 per year. [27] Predictably, the hospitalization rate tends to be highest among older individuals. [9, 10, 16] Those who are immune-compromised, like persons infected with HIV, are also more likely to face hospitalization because of the risk of complications. [4]
The relationship between HIV infection and the subsequent risk for shigellosis has yet to be conclusively evaluated, although it is known that “HIV-associated immunodeficiency leads to more severe clinical manifestations of Shigella infection.” [23] Moreover, persons infected with HIV “may develop persistent or recurrent intestinal Shigella infections, even in the presence of adequate antimicrobial therapy. They also face an increased risk of Shigella bacteraemia, which can be recurrent, severe or even fatal.” [23]
What are the Serious and Long-term Risks of Shigella Infection?
Persons with diarrhea caused by S. sonnei in particular usually recover completely, although it may be several months before their bowel habits are entirely normal. [1, 11, 26] About 2% of persons who are infected with S. flexneri later develop pains in their joints, irritation of the eyes, and painful urination—something typically diagnosed as Reiter’s Syndrome. [1, 6]
Reiter’s syndrome is more generally referred to as reactive arthritis, a complication that accompanies other kinds of bacterial infections as well. [27, 37] This complication occurs because the immune system, intending to fight Shigella, attacks the body instead. [6, 31]  Reactive arthritis is most common in persons with the HLA-B27 gene. [31] (About 80% of people with reactive arthritis have the HLA-B27 gene. Only 6% of people who do not have the syndrome have the HLA-B27 gene.) Reactive arthritis can last for months or years and may be difficult to treat. [6]
Once someone has suffered a Shigella infection, a certain level of immunity develops, meaning that the person is not likely to get infected with that specific type again for at least several years. [16] This temporary immunity does not, however, protect against other types of Shigella. [16, 29]
Shigella bacteria multiply in the human intestinal tract and invade the cells, which results in much tissue destruction. [29] Many strains produce a toxin called Shiga toxin, which is very potent and destructive. [16, 22] Shiga toxin is very similar to the verotoxin of E. coli O157:H7. Complications of shigellosis include severe dehydration, seizures in small children, rectal bleeding, and invasion of the blood stream by the bacteria (bacteremia or sepsis). [1, 11, 16, 26] In some cases, the bacteria that cause shigellosis may also cause inflammation of the lining of the rectum (proctitis) or rectal prolapse. [26]
In rare cases (but more common in S. dysenteriae infection), there can also be a deadly complication called “toxic megacolon.” [1, 26] This rare complication occurs when the colon becomes paralyzed, preventing bowel movements or passing gas. [16, 26] Signs and symptoms include abdominal pain and swelling, fever, weakness, and disorientation. [26] Untreated, the colon may rupture and cause peritonitis, a life-threatening condition requiring emergency surgery. [26]
The other relatively rare complication that can occur with a Shigella infection is the development of hemolytic uremic syndrome. This rare complication is more commonly caused by E. coli O157:H7, and it can lead to a low red blood cell count (hemolytic anemia), low platelet count (thrombocytopenia), and acute kidney failure. [26, 37] It is more common to develop HUS after being infected with S. dysenteriae. [1]
Diagnosis and Treatment of Shigella Infections
Because the symptoms of a Shigella infection are consistent with a fairly large number of potential illnesses, including most foodborne infections, a diagnosis must be confirmed by a laboratory test. [5, 11, 26] First a stool sample must be obtained from the potentially infected person, and then the sample is placed on a medium to encourage the growth of bacteria. If and when there is growth, the bacteria are identified, usually by looking at the growth under a microscope. [20, 26] The laboratory can also do special tests to tell which species of Shigella the person has, and which antibiotics would be best to treat the infection. [16, 22, 30] Antibiotic-sensitivity tests are important because Shigella is often resistant to multiple antibiotics. [16, 30]
More advanced testing and surveillance methods, such as plasmid profiling and chromosomal fingerprinting, can also be used. [11, 20, 29] So-called “genetic fingerprinting” of the bacterial isolate, using pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) is a molecular technique that can help to characterize Shigella isolates, whether obtained from human or food samples. [11, 27] Taken together, all of these tests can assist public health officials in determining whether cases (confirmed infections) are isolated or associated with common-source outbreaks. [19, 20, 27]
Efforts to identify outbreaks of foodborne illness—whether caused by Shigella or other pathogens—are important to preventing the secondary spread of infection, especially with bacteria as highly communicable as Shigella. [1, 11, 21] One major advance in these efforts was the creation of FoodNet, an active surveillance system for foodborne illness. As described by the CDC, FoodNet workers regularly contact more than 300 laboratories for confirmed cases of foodborne infections in 10 states encompassing a population of more than 44 million persons. In addition to monitoring the number of Shigella infections, investigators monitor laboratory techniques for isolation of bacteria, perform studies of ill persons to determine exposures associated with illness, and administer questionnaires to people living in FoodNet sites to better understand trends in the eating habits of Americans. [11]
Although shigellosis is usually a self-limited illness, antibiotics can shorten the course, and in the most serious cases, might be life-saving. [1, 16, 22] Historically, the antibiotics commonly used for treatment of bacterial infections, like those caused by Shigella, are ampicillin, trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole (TMP-SMZ, also known as Bactrim or Septra), or ceftriaxone (Rocephin). [1, 11, 26] Ciprofloxacin is also used commonly to treat adults who are infected. [11, 26, 30]
Unfortunately, Shigella bacteria have become resistant to one or more of these antibiotics. [16, 30] This means some antibiotics might not be effective for treatment, and that using (or overusing) antibiotics to treat shigellosis can sometimes make the bacteria more resistant. [30] As noted in one recent study:
Of 369 isolates tested, 59% were resistant to TMP-SMZ, 63% were resistant to ampicillin, 1% were resistant to cefixime, and 0.3% were resistant to nalidixic acid; none of the isolates were resistant to ciprofloxacin. Thirteen percent of the isolates had multidrug resistance to ampicillin, chloramphenicol, streptomycin, sulfisoxazole, and tetracycline. Infections due to multidrug-resistant shigellae are endemic in Oregon. [30]
This study therefore suggests that “[n]either ampicillin nor TMP-SMZ should be considered appropriate empirical therapy for shigellosis any longer; when antibiotics are indicated, a quinolone or cefixime should be used.” [30]
More on Antimicrobial Resistance in Bacteria
Antimicrobial resistance in bacteria is an emerging and increasing threat to human health. [2, 3] Physicians are increasingly aware that antimicrobial resistance is increasing in foodborne pathogens and that, as a result, patients who are prescribed antibiotics are at increased risk for acquiring antimicrobial-resistant foodborne infections. [3, 29] Indeed, “increased frequency of treatment failures for acute illness and increased severity of infection may be manifested by prolonged duration of illness, increased frequency of bloodstream infections, increased hospitalization or increased mortality.” [3]
The use of antimicrobial agents in the feed of food animals is estimated by the FDA to be over 100 million pounds per year. [3] It is estimated that 36% to 70% of all antibiotics produced in the United States are used in food animal feed or in prophylactic treatment to prevent animal disease. [2, 3] In 2002, the Minnesota Medical Association published an article by David Wallinga, M.D., M.P.H. who wrote:
According to the [Union of Concerned Scientists], 70 percent of all the antimicrobials used in the United States for all purposes—or about 24.6 million pounds annually—are fed to poultry, swine, and beef cattle for nontherapeutic purposes, in the absence of disease. Over half are “medically important” antimicrobials; identical or so closely related to human medicines that resistance to the animal drug can confer resistance to the similar human drug. Penicillin, tetracycline, macrolides, streptogramins, and sulfonamides are prominent examples. [33]
Based on recent research, it is now recommended that doctors avoid the use of commonly prescribed antibiotics, like tetracycline and ampicillin, in favor of drugs for which Shigella has not shown resistance, such as ciprofloxacin. [29] European countries have reduced the use of antibiotics in animal feed and have seen a corresponding reduction in antibiotic-resistant illnesses in humans. [3]
The Economic Impact of Shigella Infections
The USDA Economic Research Service (ERS) published its first comprehensive cost estimates for sixteen foodborne bacterial pathogens in 1989. [32] Five years later, it was estimated that the medical costs and productivity losses that Shigella infections caused each year ran from $907 million to over $1 billion, based on an estimate of 2.1 million cases and between 120-360 deaths. [13] The average length of a related hospital stay was 4.6 days, with the cost (based on a 1990 average cost per day of $687) was $16,888. [13]
Using a different kind of economic analysis, this same 1996 study estimated that the annual cost of Shigella infections was $63 million, while the average cost of each confirmed and treated infection was $390; however, these estimates are based on significantly lower (and outdated) incidence and death rates. [13] Most recent estimates are all much higher. For example, a study published in 2010 estimated the cost per case (in 2009 dollars) for a treated Shigella infection to be $7,092, with an estimate of 96,686 cases and 1,227 deaths per year, and a total cost to U.S. residents of $686 million. [35]
Real Life Impacts of Shigella Infection
Because the illnesses caused by the ingestion of Shigella bacteria range from mild to severe, the real life impacts of Shigella infection vary from person to person.
While anyone can become ill with Shigella infection, very young children, the elderly, and persons with compromised immune systems are most likely to develop severe illness.
•About 2% of persons who are infected with one type of Shigella, Shigella flexneri, later develop pains in their joints, irritation of the eyes, and painful urination. This is called post-infectious arthritis, or reactive arthritis.  The arthritis can last for months or years, and can lead to chronic arthritis. Post-infectious arthritis is caused by a reaction to Shigella infection that happens only in people who are genetically predisposed to it. [11]
•An unknown percentage of patients with Shigella infections develop digestive disorders, including irritable bowel syndrome.
Although most patients with Shigella infections recover within a few months, some continue to experience complications for years.
How to Prevent Shigella Infection
According to the World Health Organization, “Despite the continuing challenge posed by Shigella, there is room for optimism as advances in biotechnology have enabled the development of a new generation of candidate vaccines that shows great promise for the prevention of Shigella disease.” [23] But such a vaccine has yet to be perfected. Thus, in the meantime, preventing infection is the best approach, and that means implementing proper sanitation measures. [1, 14] Indeed, as noted in one authoritative text summarizing the research,
A safe water supply is important for the control of shigellosis and is probably the single most important factor in areas with substandard sanitation facilities. Chlorination is another factor important in decreasing the incidence of all enteric bacterial infections. Of critical importance to the establishment of a safe water supply is the general level of sanitation in the area and the establishment of an effective sewage disposal system. [16]
As previously noted, it takes but a few—far less than 100—Shigella bacteria to cause infection. [17] Moreover, a person can be infectious even if there are no symptoms, either because he remained asymptomatic (never exhibited symptoms of shigellosis), or because the person continued to shed the bacteria in his stool for a week or two after recovering. [11, 16, 17]
The spread of Shigella from an infected person to other persons can be avoided by frequent and careful hand-washing with soap and hot water. [1, 14, 15] Hand-washing among children should be frequent and supervised by an adult in daycare centers and homes with children who have not been fully toilet trained. [24, 28]
If a child in diapers has shigellosis, everyone who changes the child’s diapers should be sure the diapers are disposed of properly in a closed-lid garbage can, and should wash his or her hands and the child’s hands carefully with soap and warm water immediately after the diaper has been changed. [15, 39] After use, the diaper changing area should be wiped down with a disinfectant such as diluted household bleach, Lysol, or bactericidal wipes. [15, 24, 39] When possible, young children with a Shigella infection who are still in diapers should not be in contact with uninfected children. [1, 11, 15]
Basic food safety precautions and disinfection of drinking water should prevent Shigella bacteria from contaminating food and water. [11, 15, 39] Nonetheless, it should go without saying that people with shigellosis should not prepare food or drinks for others until they have been confirmed (by a stool culture) to no longer be shedding Shigella bacteria in their stool. [1, 15] At swimming beaches, there should be bathrooms and handwashing stations near the swimming area to help keep the water from becoming contaminated. [14, 29] Daycare centers should not provide water play areas. [24]
Simple precautions taken while traveling to the developing world can prevent shigellosis. [1, 39] Drink only treated or boiled water, and eat only cooked hot foods or fruits you peel yourself. [1, 11] The same precautions prevent other types of traveler’s diarrhea. [39]
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World Health Day 2015 to promote importance of food safety
Source :
By (April 2, 2015)
For the 2015 edition of World Health Day this month, consumers and food handlers alike are being reminded about the importance of practicing food safety -- an issue that can quickly escalate from a local problem to an international emergency in the increasingly globalized world.
Under the slogan “From farm to plate, make food safe,” the World Health Organization’s one-day event April 7 is being mounted as part of an effort to curb the number of food-borne illnesses which, in 2010 affected an estimated 582 million people and killed 351,000.
That’s according to new figures released by the WHO.
The most common causes of death were Salmonella (52,000), E. coli (37,000) and norovirus (35,000).
Globally, the region in Africa recorded the highest disease burden for food poisoning followed by Southeast Asia.
More than 40 percent of the victims were children under the age of five.
“A local food safety problem can rapidly become an international emergency. Investigation of an outbreak of foodborne disease is vastly more complicated when a single plate or package of food contains ingredients from multiple countries,” said WHO Director-General Dr Margaret Chan.
Consumers are also being reminded that the public plays an important role in promoting food safety in a major public awareness campaign.
Here are five keys to safe food, according to the WHO:
Keep clean
Wash hands before handling food and often during food preparation
Wash hands after going to the toilet
Wash and sanitize surfaces and equipment used for food preparation
Protect kitchen areas and food from animals and insects
Separate raw and cooked
Separate raw meat, poultry and seafood from other foods
Use separate equipment and utensils such as knives, cutting boards for handling raw foods
Store food in containers to avoid contact between raw and prepared foods
Cook it thoroughly
Cook food thoroughly, especially meat, poultry, eggs, and seafood
Bring foods like soups and stews to boiling to make sure they have reached 70C. For meat and poultry make sure juices run clear, not pink. Ideally, use a thermometer.
Reheat cooked food thoroughly
Keep food at safe temperatures
Do not leave cooked food at room temperature for more than two hours
Refrigerate promptly all cooked and perishable food (preferably below 5C)
Keep cooked food piping hot (more than 60C) prior to serving
Do not store food too long even in the refrigerator
Do not thaw frozen food at room temperature
Use safe water and raw materials
Use safe water or treat it to make it safe
Select fresh and wholesome foods
Choose foods processed for safety, such as pasteurized milk
Wash fruits and vegetables, especially if eaten raw
Do not use food beyond its expiry date

This certification fulfills all USDA/FSIS and FDA regulatory requirements for HACCP Training. The certification is also accepted by auditing firms who require HACCP Training as a component of the audit. Our training has encompassed a multitude of industries from the farm to the table.
We are so proud that more than 400 attendees successfully finished Basic and Advanced HACCP Trainings through FoodHACCP. All attendees received a HACCP certificate which fulfills all USDA/FSIS and FDA regulatory requirements for HACCP Training

LA TV Station Reports Health Department’s Failure to Announce Salmonella Outbreak

Source :
By News Desk (Mar 26, 2015) a four-month period, a popular deli in the Los Angeles area sickened at least 21 people with Salmonella poisoning, but the Ventura County Department of Public Health did not notify the public when the first cases were reported and they began their investigation.
A new report by Los Angeles news station NBC4 revealed that Brent’s Deli in Westlake Village, CA, had been associated with Salmonella illnesses for months over the course of this past summer and was under an outbreak investigation. But while that investigation was going on, health officials did not announce any illnesses or outbreak investigation to the public.
The first public revelation of the outbreak did not come until January 2015, when food safety attorney Bill Marler released health department records obtained as part of a lawsuit filed by a woman who contracted Salmonellosis after eating at the deli. The outbreak was then reported in Food Safety News and elsewhere.
Now, Marler is representing several people who came down with Salmonellosis after eating at Brent’s. (His law firm, Marler Clark, underwrites Food Safety News.)
The director of the health department, William Stratton, told the news station that they do not typically alert the public when they are in the midst of an investigation.
County health departments for Los Angeles and San Francisco, however, have alerted the public to outbreaks in recent years in an attempt to warn prospective customers about the potential for getting sick, and so that other customers experiencing symptoms will know to seek out medical care.
NBC4 found that Brent’s Deli has repeatedly been cited for “major health violations” going back to 2007. The deli was also associated with other Salmonella illnesses in 2007, 2010 and 2013, the station reported.
A co-owner of Brent’s told NBC4 that after learning of the outbreak, the restaurant voluntarily closed down, sanitized their facilities, and hired a third-party company to improve their overall food safety.
Watch and read the full NBC4 report here.

China less satisfied, confident in food safety: survey
Source :
By globaltimes (Mar 26, 2015)
Chinese people are getting less satisfied and confident in food safety in the country, an official survey showed on Wednesday.
The poll, which surveyed 4,258 people from 59 cities in 2014, was released by a food safety poll center attached to the China Food and Drug Administration.
The survey showed 47.8 percent of the respondents chose “not satisfied” or “very unsatisfied” when asked how they felt toward the state of food safety, higher than 29.7 percent in a 2012 poll.
Only 21 percent of respondents in the latest survey said they were satisfied with current food safety levels in China.
Over half of those polled said they also lacked confidence in the future of food safety.
Excessive levels of heavy metal, food additives, chemicals and pesticides as well as microbial contamination are among the things those surveyed were most concerned about, the survey said. The report said pesticides in vegetables had been greatly reduced since 2005 due to improved standards and better supervision.
The report also revealed that food from Taiwan had the highest level of food safety problems compared to food from other regions in the world. Beverages and bottled water were the two items that often failed to meet quality standards.
Among those surveyed, 2,139 are from urban areas and patronize supermarkets the most, where they believe the food is safest. 
The media are increasingly exposing food safety problems. However, most of the reports come from southeastern China, especially coastal areas, highlighting the lack of transparency, the report said.

Claravale Raw Milk May be Associated with Campylobacter Outbreak
Source :
By Linda Larsen (Mar 25, 2015)
The California Department of Public Health warned consumers that consumption of unpasteurized (raw) milk may cause serious illness. Six people in northern California have been diagnosed with campylobacteriosis, a serious infection caused by Campylobacter bacteria.
Multiple bottles of raw milk from Claravale Farm have tested positive for Campylobacter and have been recalled. In 2012, raw milk from Claravale farm sickened at least 22 people with Campylobacter. In this latest recall, raw milk, raw nonfat milk and raw cream from Claravale Farm in San Benito county with code dates of “MAR 28 and earlier should be disposed. Retailers should not sell it, and consumers should not drink it.
The symptoms of a Campylobacter infection include diarrhea that is often bloody, abdominal cramping and pain, fever, nausea, and vomiting. Symptoms usually appear within two to five days after exposure. People are usually sick for about a week with this infection, although some people, especially the elderly and young children, can become sick enough to be hospitalized. A Campylobacter infection can cause Guillain Barre syndrome that can cause paralysis. And long term health effects from this infection include arthritis and meningitis.
Over the past decade, public health officials have investigated many food poisoning outbreaks linked to raw milk. The sale of raw milk is legal from some dairies in California, but CDPH does not recommend drinking these product and especially warns against giving them to children.
Raw milk products in California must carry a warning label that states: “WARNING: Raw (unpasteurized) milk and raw milk dairy products may contain disease-causing microorganisms. Persons at highest risk of disease from these organisms include newborns and infants; the elderly; pregnant women; those taking corticosteroids, antibiotics or antacids; and those having chronic illnesses or other conditions that weaken their immunity.”
If you drank any unpasteurized dairy products from Claravale Farm and have experienced these symptoms, please see your doctor. Serious complications from this type of infection can occur, and early medical treatment is crucial.

Seriously, Do Not Drink Raw Milk with Campylobacter
Source :
By Bill Marler (Mar 25, 2015)
Main_RawMilk-300x169An analysis conducted by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future (CLF) found that the risks of drinking raw (unpasteurized) cow’s milk are significant. Consumers are nearly 100 times more likely to get foodborne illness from drinking raw milk than they are from drinking pasteurized milk. In fact, the researchers determined that raw milk was associated with over half of all milk-related foodborne illness, even though only an estimated 3.5% of the U.S. population consumes raw milk. Based on their findings, the researchers discourage the consumption of raw milk, which some claim is healthier and tastes better than pasteurized milk. They note that the risks are better understood than the benefits, and that further research is needed to determine whether the health benefit claims are legitimate.
The CLF analysis was prepared at the request of the Maryland House of Delegates’ Health and Operations Committee as lawmakers considered relaxing regulations that currently prohibit the sale of unpasteurized milk in Maryland. In the 2014 legislative session, House Bill 3 aimed to legalize the on-farm sale of unpasteurized milk in Maryland. The bill was tabled as legislators considered the issue. The research team presented its report to the House of Delegates last month.
Raw milk has become more popular in recent years, even though it is only available for direct purchase at farms in many states. Advocates believe that raw milk, which contains more natural antibodies, proteins and bacteria than pasteurized milk, is healthier, cleaner, tastes better and reduces lactose intolerance and allergies in certain people. Pasteurization, named after Louis Pasteur, involves heating milk to destroy microbes that may have entered the milk supply from fecal contamination, dairy operations, cow udders or other sources. The treated milk is then hermetically sealed to prevent recontamination.
“Ultimately, the scientific literature showed that the risk of foodborne illness from raw milk is over 100 times greater than the risk of foodborne illness from pasteurized milk,” says report lead author, Benjamin Davis, a CLF-Lerner Fellow and doctoral candidate in the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health’s Department of Environmental Health Sciences. “Although potential benefits related to the consumption of raw milk would benefit from further investigation, we believe that from a public health perspective it is a far safer choice to discourage the consumption of raw milk.”
For their study, a team of investigators led by Keeve Nachman, PhD, director of the Public Health and Food Production Program at CLF and an assistant professor with the Bloomberg School, screened approximately 1,000 articles and reviewed 81 published journal articles relevant to the health risks and benefits of consuming raw cow’s milk. Microbial contaminants commonly found in milk include infectious Salmonella, Campylobacter, and Listeria species along with the Escherichia coli type O157:H7. These bacteria can cause foodborne illness in humans, including diarrhea, vomiting, cramping, fevers, and sometimes more serious consequences such as kidney failure or death.
“The risks of consuming raw milk instead of pasteurized milk are well established in the scientific literature, and in some cases can have severe or even fatal consequences,” notes co-author Cissy Li, a CLF research assistant and doctoral candidate with the Bloomberg School’s Department of Environmental Health Sciences. “Based on our findings, we discourage the consumption of raw milk, especially among vulnerable populations such as the elderly, people with impaired immune systems, pregnant women, and children.”
“A Literature Review of the Risks and Benefits of Consuming Raw and Pasteurized Cow’s Milk” was written by Benjamin Davis, Cissy Li and Keeve Nachman, and can be found online at:

Capita and the great British food safety sell-off
Source :
By Tom Bawden (March 25, 2015)
The sale of a key government research unit to the outsourcing giant Capita could undermine essential work on food safety and lead to commercial concerns being put before the public interest, a leading expert has warned.
Professor Tim Lang, a Westminster adviser, told The Independent that the Food and Environment Research Agency (Fera), which led the way in identifying horsemeat in the UK food chain, is now doomed to failure. The global contractor has already outlined plans to almost double sales by making the unit’s work more commercial.
Fera’s research includes analysing diseases and chemical risks in the food-supply chain, as well as looking at the effects of pesticides, tree diseases and invasive species. But Professor Lang warns that once the agency is privatised, it will be under pressure to ignore low-paying projects vital to public safety and the environment in favour of more lucrative research. The academic frequently advises the Government and the World Health Organisation on food safety issues.
“No one will pay for evidence about food and biodiversity, or food and pesticide residues,” he warned.
“There’s no profit in that. In fact, there’s more profit in not having it. There’s an absolute incentive not to have public-interest research about these areas. And that’s a concern.” He added: “Government needs to have optimum advice at its fingertips… Climate change, pesticides – all sorts of things that politicians ought to have good advice on are wrapped up in the daily bread and butter of Fera. And the Government privatising that basically gets rid of that.”
Capita formally takes over the agency next Wednesday. But Professor Lang, who heads City University London’s food policy unit, said: “I think it’s absolutely scandalous. This is selling the state, and the moment a state loses its access to science it’s in trouble.”
He claimed many food policy experts shared his view but were unwilling to speak out about their concerns.
Fera employs about 400 scientists in York and a further 50 jobs will be created in the city as a result of the deal. The group made a profit of £1.6m last year as a government entity, on sales of about £40m. Capita wants to increase the unit’s annual sales to “at least” £700m over the next decade, or £70m a year.
Labour has urged caution over the deal. The shadow Environment Secretary, Maria Eagle, said the Government has not satisfied her concerns about Capita’s acquisition of the agency.
“I have some concerns about the deal and I have not been able to get much information out of the Government. Clearly the concern is that commercial considerations will skew Fera’s priorities,” she said.
The deal will result in Capita paying £20m for a 75 per cent stake in Fera; further investment will be made during the following five years. Capita is teaming up with Newcastle University for the venture, which it says will “unlock £14.5m of funding”.
Concerns have also been raised about a potential conflict of interest between Fera’s work and other Capita clients, which are thought to include the retailers Sainsbury’s and John Lewis.
“Growth will be generated through existing agreements with the public sector… and by further developing services to achieve greater penetration of the commercial market,” Capita said when it announced the deal.
The group insisted yesterday that Fera, far from being damaged by the deal, would benefit once it separates from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).
“Defra will continue to play a role in Fera’s operation and governance, and the government will continue to be an important client for Fera. More importantly, Capita believes that good science is good business… Capita’s investment will protect the excellent and valuable ‘science for public good’ work which is a distinctive part of Fera’s mission,” he said.
A spokesman for Fera said Defra would have two seats on the agency’s board so that it can ensure that the interests of the public and the government are represented.
The Government has committed to contribute at least £50m to the unit over the next five years. “Scientific research will not be swayed by commercial interests,” he said. But despite assurances that the integrity of Fera will be protected, many in the industry remain concerned.
Professor Chris Elliott, the food expert who led the Government’s inquiry into the horsemeat scandal, said Fera scientists are relieved that the ownership issue has been settled after a long period of uncertainty, but he cautioned that considerable uncertainty remains.
“I doubt if they yet know the direction of travel planned for the organisation. I very much hope we can all get an idea of this sooner rather than later,” he said.
The Fera takeover comes as the National Audit Office investigates a contract between the Cabinet Office and Capita to provide civil service learning and development training, after a group of small businesses claimed the outsourcer had exploited its dominant position at the expense of the suppliers it works with. Capita said it was supporting the NAO contract review.
Explainer: What the agency does
The Food and Environment Research Agency’s (Fera) wide-ranging remit includes a crucial role in protecting the integrity of the UK’s food chain. It played a key role in the horsemeat scandal and celebrated its 100th anniversary last year – during which time it has established a global reputation for food science expertise.
But its remit is far wider than food. It also researches plants, animals and the environment at large, focusing on areas such as bee health, ash dieback, invasive species, genetically modified crops and biosecurity.
It provides diagnostic and forensic support to, among others, the Plant Health and Seeds Inspectorate, the Genetic Modification Inspectorate and the National Bee Unit. Fera completes more than 600 research projects a year, involving the analysis of 50,000 plant and food samples.

How Canadian: Restaurant food safety reporting needs review in Guelph
Source :
By Doug Powell (Mar 25, 2015)
According to this editorial, it seems like the Guelph-area public health unit can take extra steps to make the community more aware of food safety issues at local eateries.
Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health’s latest records show it has recently flagged 152 area eateries with food safety violations that could cause food poisoning.
However, unless someone went through the health unit’s posted database for such issues, there would be no public notification surrounding these findings. What’s more, there is no obligation for local eateries to even draw the public’s attention to the existence of recent health unit inspection results, let alone make available, on-site, a report of such findings relating to their food operation.
The health unit touted its present, public food safety inspections database related to local eateries when the online tool was launched in 2013. It suggested the system was a big improvement over what had been in place in this regard. That was true. What it replaced was an opaque system for the public that required requests for the food safety records of eateries to be made to the health unit for its release, on its timing.
However, even when the Check Before You Choose program emerged, it lagged behind best practices elsewhere in the public health field — even in southern Ontario.
barf.o.meter.dec.12Since 2001, Toronto Public Health’s DineSafe has been a leader in this sector. Where the Guelph-area health unit obliges citizens to do their research and dig for potentially concerning restaurant food safety records, the Toronto system makes eateries prominently post the results of the latest health unit inspections on-site. What’s more, the reports are colour coded, so it can be seen at a glance whether an eatery received a pass (green), a yellow report (conditional approval), or a red (closure order) in their latest inspection.
The Toronto system has its critics. Some fault DineSafe as a “name and shame” initiative that may also give a false sense of food safety security to diners. However, DineSafe’s introduction coincided with a period where the rate of food safety compliance jumped at local eateries and stayed higher.
A version of the system has since been adopted in several other regional health unit venues and in other international jurisdictions.

Raw Milk and Campylobacter – a Vile Mix
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By Andy Weisbecker (Mar 24, 2015)
On June 6, 2008, Mari Tardiff began to experience acute diarrhea and vomiting, which eventually gave way to a searing pain in her legs. The night of June 12th, Mari went to bed after soaking her legs in hot water to get some temporary relief, and awoke to find she could not move her legs. She was admitted to the hospital, where the paralysis began to spread to the rest of her body. Despite being unable to move, she continued to feel intense pain instead of the numbness usually experienced by victims of paralysis.
Doctors eventually diagnosed Mari with Guillain-Barré syndrome, a severe complication of Campylobacter infection in which the body’s immune system attacks part of the peripheral nervous system. Mari’s case was linked to those of others who had developed Campylobacter infections from drinking raw milk produced by Alexandre EcoDairy Farms, a “cow-share” program in California. Sixteen other people, including one EcoDairy worker, were also infected with Campylobacter from the unpasteurized milk.
Mari, a public health nurse who had always maintained a healthy lifestyle by eating organic foods and exercising often, had taken what turned out to be a devastating risk in eating a food she thought would be beneficial to her health.
Mari spent almost six months in the hospital and in rehabilitation facilities, where she slowly learned to breathe again without a ventilator, and began to regain some of her speech and motion. She now lives at home in her family room, which has been outfitted with the equipment she needs, such as a hospital bed, stand-up frame, and Hoyer lift. It is unclear whether she will ever walk again.
Marler Clark represented Mari and successfully resolved her case in November, 2009.
Read more about the Alexandre EcoDairy Farms Campylobacter outbreak and the litigation that followed.

Listeria Found in Ice Cream Made in Second Blue Bell Facility
Source :
By Carla Gillespie (Mar 24, 2015)
After a deadly Listeria outbreak at Via Christi hospital in Wichita was linked to Blue Bell ice cream made in Texas, new tests have found the pathogen in ice cream made at the company’s plant in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma.
The potentially contaminated products distributed to hospitals and other other institutions in 23 states include three flavors of 3 ounce ice cream cups: chocolate, vanilla and strawberry.  The recalled chocolate cups have the SKU number 453,  Strawberry SKU 452 and Vanilla  SKU451. They were distributed in the following states: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and Wyoming.
These recalled products are in addition to the 10 that have previously recalled. They are: Chocolate Chip Country Cookie SKU # 196, Great Divide Bar SKU #108, Sour Pop Green Apple Bar SKU #221, Cotton Candy Bar SKU #216, Scoops SKU #117, Vanilla Stick Slices SKU #964, Almond Bars SKU #156, 6 pack Cotton Candy Bars SKU #245, 6 pack Sour Pop Green Apple Bars SKU #249, and 12 pack No Sugar Added Mooo Bars* SKU #343.
The Listeria in the ice cream cup was found in product that Via Christi removed from distribution and held in quarantine after being alerted to the problem March 9, the hospital said in a statement on its website.
The hospital has fully cooperated with the outbreak investigation and  “none of the environmental samples from the kitchen tested positive for Listeria,” according to a news release from the Kansas Department of Environmental Health. “However, one sample taken from an unopened Blue Bell 3-ounce single serving ice cream cup tested positive for Listeria monocytogenes bacteria at the Kansas Department of Agriculture Laboratory. That product was made at the Blue Bell Creameries facility in Broken Arrow, Okla., which was not part of the initial listeriosis investigation.”
Five patients hospitalized at Via Christi between December 2013 and January 2015 for unrelated illnesses became ill with listeriosis after being served Blue Bell ice cream. Three people died.

Should One Agency Manage All Food Safety?
Source :
By Grant Gerlock (Mar 24, 2015)
More than a dozen federal agencies form a patchwork system that aims to keep food from making Americans sick. But critics say the old system has worn thin. And some think we would all be safer if food safety at the federal level was brought under one roof.
Walking through Heartland Gourmet in Lincoln, Neb. shows how complicated the food safety system can be. Inside the warehouse pallets are stacked with sacks of potato flour and the smell of fresh baked apple-cinnamon muffins is in the air.
Heartland Gourmet makes a wide range of foods from muffins and organic baking mixes to pizzas and burritos. Business manager Mark Zink explains that means he has to answer to both of the main food safety regulators, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration. What is being made determines which agency is in charge.
Apple cinnamon muffins fall under the authority of the FDA. A cheese burrito or cheese pizza is also FDA. But a beef burrito or pepperoni pizza has to meet USDA guidelines, a totally different agency.
“They have jurisdiction over anything with raw meat, cooked meat, anything that touches meat product, they have jurisdiction over that area,” Zink said.
That’s the general rule of thumb. Make something with meat and the USDA is in charge. Otherwise it’s FDA. Except for seafood. FDA has authority over seafood. But not catfish. Catfish actually falls under the USDA.
And the agencies work differently. Before Zink runs a batch of beef burritos, he has to call a USDA inspector, who must be on site when the food is prepared. A USDA official will stop by at other times during the year to check in. He doesn’t hear from the FDA as often.
“FDA is a once a year thing,” Zink said. “They pop in and do their inspection and they’re gone.”
Zink says after 25 years in the business he has no trouble navigating the system, but for observers it can get complicated. Altogether 15 federal agencies play a role in food safety, from the EPA to the Centers for Disease Control.
“And it ends up just being a gigantic mess in terms of a comprehensive approach to food safety,” said Courtney Thomas, who studies political science and food safety at Virginia Tech University.
Thomas says the system looks fractured today because it was cobbled together from the start. The first food safety laws passed in 1906 put USDA in charge of meat quality because the agency already worked with meatpackers. The FDA was created to ensure purity in other foods.
“Right out of the gate there were two different laws, two different legislative mandates that were given to two completely different agencies in the federal government” Thomas said. “And from there it only spiraled.”
Each year 1 in 6 Americans comes down with listeria, E.coli, salmonella or some other foodborne illness. According to the CDC, 3,000 people die each year. For years, critics have said a streamlined system would be safer. Even President Obama called for a single food safety agency in his recent budget.
The U.S. Government Accountability Office has been a leading critic of the fragmented food safety system. Steve Morris of the GAO says the food safety system is one recall away from a crisis. One longstanding issue is that agencies tend to keep a narrow focus. 
“Right now what you have is fairly limited coordination,” Morris said. “So the consumer and the Congress basically lack this comprehensive picture of what the national strategy is.”
That’s a big problem because there are challenges ahead that cut across all agencies. For instance, 16 percent of the food Americans eat is imported and that number is rising.
Steve Taylor, a food scientist at the University of Nebraska Lincoln, says regulators are already behind in inspecting foreign food facilities.
“And if you go to the right people in a lot of big corporations in the United States involved in food processing, they’d say that’s one of their biggest worries too,” Taylor said.
Maybe one agency could be more efficient checking in on foreign suppliers. But Virginia Tech’s Courtney Thomas says the chances are pretty low that Washington will adopt a single food safety agency any time soon.
One reason is that our food system is currently one of the safest in the world. Also, most food companies would prefer a complicated but familiar system over an unknown overhaul. And with multiple agencies involved, more politicians have oversight of food safety. They might not want to give that up.
“There’s no easy fix to this problem,” Thomas said. “What you’re talking about is a legal, a regulatory, and a cultural shift. A political shift that we haven’t seen in this country in the last 100 years.”
Without an immediate crisis, it seems there’s not much political appetite for shaking up the food safety system.

After Three Die, Blue Bell Recalls Some Ice Cream
Source :
By Bill Marler (Mar 23, 2015)
Blue Bell Ice Cream of Brenham, Texas, is recalling three 3 oz. institutional/food service ice cream cups- chocolate, strawberry and vanilla with tab lids because they have the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes, an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Although healthy individuals may suffer only short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea, Listeria infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women.
On March 22, the Kansas Department of Health & Environment reported one positive test for Listeria monocytogenes on a chocolate institutional/food service cup recovered from a hospital in Wichita, Kan. This cup was produced in the Broken Arrow, Okla., plant on April 15, 2014. These cups are not sold thru retail outlets such as convenience stores and supermarkets.
The ice cream cups listed below were distributed in Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and Wyoming via food service accounts.
Ice Cream Cup Chocolate (3 FL OZ) No UPC – SKU #453
Ice Cream Cup Strawberry (3 FL OZ) No UPC – SKU #452
Ice Cream Cup Vanilla (3 FL OZ) No UPC – SKU #451

School Outbreak in Maine Sickened 22 Children Last Week
Source :
By Linda Larsen (Mar 23, 2015)
According to the Portland Press Herald, 22 Portland schoolchildren were sickened with food poisoning last week at Reiche Elementary School. Officials suspect a pickled beet salad may be the culprit.
School LunchSchool officials alerted public health officials when student began to throw up about an hour after lunch on Tuesday, March 17, 2015. The cafeteria at Reiche was the only school in the public school system to serve that beet salad that day. There were no illnesses in the rest of the district.
Lab results are pending. No students needed to see the doctor. Twenty-one of the twenty-two sickened students returned to school the next day. The school district’s central kitchen and the kitchen at Reiche School were inspected by public health officials. While the district kitchens passed inspection with just two minor violations, the kitchens at the school failed inspection with four critical violations.
The violations were: salad bar sneeze guard too high, the self-serve salad bar was not monitored, cut salad greens and mac and cheese were left out without time and temperature control, and the school wasn’t sanitizing a key pad used by students.
One thing puzzles investigators: how fast the children got sick and how quickly they recovered. Staff is cooperating with the investigation. Children and staff are being interviewed and samples were taken to be sent to a lab.

New Jersey farmers prepare for new food safety regulations
Source :
By Carol Comegno, CherryHill (Mar 23, 2015)
Proposed federal regulations to prevent food-borne illnesses would affect farmers who grow tomatoes and other fruits, vegetables and nuts in New Jersey and around the country.
The new program also would apply to imported produce.
About 50 farmers, retailers and agricultural educators attended a seminar Monday in Burlington County on the new Federal Drug Administration program, whose goal is to prevent E. coli and other food-borne illnesses such as listeria.
Farmers were urged to prepare for gradual implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) between 2017 and 2019, with the largest commercial farm operations to be impacted first.
All farms with more $25,000 in produce sales would be covered by the new law, which covers mostly commercial farms that sell wholesale.
The program calls for farm inspections and monitoring and testing of pond, well and municipal water supplies that can be sources of harmful strains of E. coli and other food-borne illnesses. There are also regulations on use of certain manures.
Congress created the program in a January 2011 law prompted by a 2006 recall of fresh spinach in food stores and other markets due to E. coli.
The proposed rules are targeted for adoption by October. In a rare move. the FDA recently revised them after input from the agricultural industry and the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture.
Delaware Secretary of Agriculture Ed Kee, who said he began hauling produce in 1968, told the gathering at the Rutgers EcoComplex in Mansfield the new law is "without a doubt the single biggest change I've seen to the industry in all that time."
He said the more everyone works together the better.
His New Jersey counterpart, Secretary Douglas Fisher, said New Jersey has an excellent safety record on its farms.
"We have never had any produce turn up in this state with E. coli, whether tomatoes, cantaloupes or any other fresh produce," he said.
Sweet corn and potatoes are not covered by the law because they are cooked before being eaten. Meat, dairy and poultry farms long have been monitored for food-borne illnesses.
Food market retailers who buy on the wholesale market already are subject to separate safe handling and health rules but will be subjected to another layer of regulation under the new law.
"You don't do food safety because the FDA says FSMA is here and you have to," said Robert Whitaker, chief science and technology officer for the Produce Marketing Association. "You don't do food safety because the retailers say you have to or I'm not going to buy from you. You do food safety to protect your business ... and farmers should be preparing now for the new law."
"The FDA will provide education, technical assistance, pre-implementation assessment, on-the-farm training and outreach centers to develop a working relationship with produce growers and the state agricultural extension services," said Jennifer Thomas of the FDA center for food safety and applied nutrition.
Burlington County farmer Roger Kumpel expressed concerns about his water supply.
"I pump some water from a surface pond for irrigation," Kumpel said. "I can't have any control over what people upstream whose streams feed into that pond are doing, so I'm looking at installing a well, just to have that control."
Farmers in attendance estimated the cost for a new well could be $60,000 to $200,000; others suggested chlorinating the pond water.
Butch Sparacio of Strawberry Farm and Farm Market in Deerfield, Cumberland County, said he came to hear the latest because he does a lot of wholesale business as well as farmstand sales.
"It just seems there is always more pressure on the farmer," said Tim Bourgeois of Fresh Market Tomatoes in Cedarville, Cumberland County.

Internet Journal of Food Safety (Operated by FoodHACCP)
[2015] Current Issues

Vol 17.25-31
Combined Effect Of Disinfectant And Phage On The Survivality Of S. Typhimurium And Its Biofilm Phenotype
Mudit Chandra, Sunita Thakur, Satish S Chougule, Deepti Narang, Gurpreet Kaur and N S Sharma

Vol 17.21-24
Quality analysis of milk and milk products collected from Jalandhar, Punjab, India
Shalini Singh, Vinay Chandel, Pranav Soni

Vol 17.10-20
Functional and Nutraceutical Bread prepared by using Aqueous Garlic Extract
H.A.R. Suleria, N. Khalid, S. Sultan, A. Raza, A. Muhammad and M. Abbas

Vol 17.6-9
Microbiological Assessment of Street Foods of Gangtok And Nainital, Popular Hill Resorts of India
Niki Kharel, Uma Palni and Jyoti Prakash Tamang

Vol 17.1-5
Assessment of the Microbial Quality of Locally Produced Meat (Beef and Pork) in Bolgatanga Municipal of Ghana
Innocent Allan Anachinaba, Frederick Adzitey and Gabriel Ayum Teye

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