Recalls of Organic Foods and All Foods on the Rise
Source : https://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2015/recalls-of-organic-foods-and-all-foods-on-the-rise/
By Linda Larsen (Aug 24, 2015)
According to a new report from Stericycle, recalls of organic foods for microbial reasons has increased in the past year. In fact, recalls of all foods is up significantly from the first quarter of 2015. That company analyzed data from the FDA and USDA for their study.
According to the USDA, 70% of consumers think that food is safer or of high quality if it is labeled organic. But organic food is just as susceptible to bacterial contamination as conventionally grown food.
There were 178 FDA food recalls in the second quarter of 2015, which is an increase of 47% from the previous quarter. Sixty-two percent of those recalls were for bacterial contamination, mostly for Salmonella and Listeria. Vegetables were 61% of the recall activity.
Foods recalled by the USDA, which include meat, poultry, and eggs, also increased in the second quarter 2015. There were 10.7 million pounds recalled, which is about 10 times the volume of food recalled in the first quarter. The leading cause of those recalls was undeclared allergens.
And organic food recalls were 8% of all food units recalled. That doesn’t sound like much, until you consider that organic foods were only 2% of all food unites recalled in 2014. And in 2012 and 2013, only 1% of total food units recalled were organic.
Growing consumer and corporate demand for organic ingredients is partially responsible for the increase. But what is troubling is that all of the recalls of organic food have been for pathogenic bacteria contamination.
So if you buy organic foods, especially produce, don’t be complacent about food safety. Bacteria is everywhere, and everything can be contaminated. Wash produce carefully and thoroughly before you prepare it and before you eat it. Cook meat, poultry, and eggs to well done. And be aware of cross-contamination possibilities when you are in the kitchen. Wash your hands well before preparing food and after handling raw meat, poultry, and eggs.
E. coli Hits Canada – Source Unknown
Source : http://www.foodpoisonjournal.com/foodborne-illness-outbreaks/e-coli-hits-canada-source-unknown/#.Vd0jihEViUl
By Denis Stearns (Aug 24, 2015)
The Public Health Agency of Canada is warning the public about an outbreak of a potentially deadly form of E. coli after at least 24 people became infected and five of them ended up being hospitalized.
The 24 cases of Escherichia coli O157 occurred between July 12 and Aug. 8, with the “peak of illnesses” reported between July 25 and Aug. 1, according a statement from PHAC. The source of the illnesses has not yet been identified and the investigation is ongoing.
Most of those who became ill (63 per cent) were male, had an average age of 24, and were located in the following four provinces:
Alberta (one case)
Nova Scotia (two cases)
Ontario (seven cases)
Quebec (14 cases)
The Risks of Rare Ground Beef: Consumer Reports
Source : https://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2015/the-risks-of-rare-ground-beef-consumer-reports/
By Linda Larsen (Aug 24, 2015)
Consumer Reports has released a new report about the risks of eating undercooked ground beef. Their new test results prove that eating rare or medium-rare ground beef can make you seriously sick. Up to 28% of Americans eat raw or undercooked ground beef, according to Dr. Hannah Gould, epidemiologist at the CDC.
All meat is contaminated with some pathogenic bacteria, most commonly Enterococcus, E. Coli, or Staphylococcus. When beef is ground, that bacteria on the surface of the beef cuts is mixed all through the product. And then when the ground beef is not cooked to well done, or 165°F, you run the risk of getting sick.
Between 2003 and 2012, there were almost 80 outbreaks of E. coli O157 linked to contaminated beef. Those outbreaks sickened 1,144 people, hospitalized 316, and killed five. Ground beef was the source of most of those outbreaks. Last year, an E. coli O157 outbreak linked to Wolverine Packing ground beef sickened at least 11 people.
Most ground beef produced in the U.S. has another risk factor: the meat and trimmings come from more than one cow, so if the meat from one animal is contaminated with E. coli, many pounds of ground beef can be contaminated.
In addition, consumer handling of ground beef is problematic. When you mix ground beef with other ingredients, and form hamburger patties or meatloaf, your hands will be contaminated. Unless you wash thoroughly and very carefully immediately afterward, your hands can be contaminated; that will contaminate every surface you touch. Cross-contamination between raw ground beef and utensils, work surfaces, and other foods is an issue as well.
So Consumer Reports decided to test for bacteria in ground beef. They purchased 300 packages from 103 grocery, big-box, and natural food stores in 26 U.S. cities. All types of ground beef were purchased: conventional, organic, and sustainable. They then analyzed for five common bacteria; Clostridium perfringens, E. coli, Enterococcus, Salmonella, and Staphylococcus aureus.
All 458 pounds of beef they tested had bacteria that indicated fecal contamination. Sixty percent of samples had E. coli. Almost 20% contained C. perfringens. And 10% of the beef had S. aureus bacteria that produce a toxin that cannot be destroyed by cooking. One percent had Salmonella. And 18% of conventional beef samples were contaminated with superbugs that are resistant to three or more classes of antibiotics.
Appalling conditions at feedlots aren’t helping. The average feedlot in the U.S. has more than 4,000 head of cattle crammed into small areas. The cattle often stand in their own waste, which stresses them, making them more susceptible to disease.
Consumer Reports recommends that you buy “grass-fed organic beef” whenever you can. Those animals need fewer antibiotics to treat disease, they are raised without confinement, and they aren’t fed antibiotics at a sub-therapeutic level for growth promotion or to prevent illness.
And cook your burgers well done!
Food Safety Microbiology
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CDC Advice About Raw Tuna Salmonella Outbreak
Source : https://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2015/cdc-advice-about-raw-tuna-salmonella-outbreak/
By Linda Larsen (Aug 23, 2015) Leave a Comment
The outbreak of Salmonella Paratyphi B variant L(+) tartrate_(+) and Salmonella Weltevreden infections linked to frozen raw tuna may be over, but this product has a long shelf life and could still be in freezers, both in consumers’ homes and in restaurants. The CDC has advice about this product and the outbreak.
Raw Tuna FPBRetailers should not sell of serve any of the recalled frozen tuna products from one processing plant in Indonesia. It was imported by Osamu Corporation, sold throughout the U.S., and was recalled. All frozen tuna, including loin, saku, chunk, slice, and ground market forms, with the four digit purchase order numbers 8563 through 8599 are recalled. They were sold from May 9, 2014 to July 9, 2015.
In addition, one lot of frozen yellowfin tuna chunk meat distributed to AFC Corporation for use in sushi franchises in grocery stores was recalled. It was sold from May 20, 2015 to May 26, 2015. That product has lot number 68568.
If you don’t know the lot number of frozen tuna that is stored in your freezer, contact the retailer or distributor. When in doubt, don’t sell, serve, or eat it.
The CDC also says that some consumers should not eat any raw fish or raw shellfish regardless of an ongoing outbreak. Those groups include children under the age of 5, adults older than 65, pregnant women, and people with chronic illnesses and weakened immune systems.
If you have eaten raw tuna and have experienced the symptoms of a Salmonella infection, see your doctor. Those symptoms include diarrhea that may be bloody, fever, abdominal cramps, nausea, and vomiting.
The outbreak has sickened 65 people in 11 states. Eleven people have been hospitalized as a result of their illnesses. Three rare isolates have been collected from ill persons; one isolate was resistant to the antibiotic ampicillin.
Food Processing Surface Sanitation Using Chemical-Free Dry Steam
Source : http://www.foodsafetymagazine.com/signature-series/food-processing-surface-sanitation-using-chemical-free-dry-steam1/
By Stewart Lebrun, PhD, Roxanne Chan, MD and Shannon Carey (Aug 20, 2015)
Cross-contamination of food substances with pathogenic microbes during processing poses a significant health risk for the U.S. population as well as liability for food industries. Various bacteria--e.g Staphylococcus aureus and Salmonella spp.--can survive on hands, clothes and utensils for hours or even days after initial contact with the microorganisms. Transfer rates of cross-contamination among hands, foods and kitchen surfaces were found to be highly variable (0.0005% to 100%).
Salmonella enteritides, Staphylococcus aureus and Campylobacter jejuni survive on stainless steel surfaces at room temperature. The transfer rate from sponges to stainless steel surfaces was studied and it was found that those pathogens remain viable on dry stainless steel surfaces and present a contamination hazard for long periods of time, depending on the pathogen and contamination level.
Listeria monocytogenes is ubiquitous, and cross-contamination is a serious public health concern. There are strains that are more heat resistant or can persist even after exposure to alkali and chlorine post-processing. Some microorganisms that can adapt to acidic environments include Salmonella enterica, Eschericia coli O157:H7 and L. monocytogenes. Table 1[4,5] below describes the four common food pathogens--studied here--and includes basic information such as foods they contaminate, illnesses they cause and the annual number of cases of hospitalizations and deaths attributed to each.
Cross-contamination is best controlled with regular sanitation. For example, one approach is to sanitize surfaces and equipment at the end or beginning of each day or even throughout the day, thereby limiting potential cross-contamination to a single date or lot number. However, it may not be as simple as it sounds to disinfect surfaces using traditional cleaning methods, including heat or chemicals. The chemical methods typically employ strong oxidizers, such as hypochlorites, chlorine dioxide, iodophors, peroxyacetic acid and quaternary ammonium compounds, which are most effective if allowed to react for extended periods with use of adequate concentration and appropriate temperature and are toxic for humans if ingested. Microorganisms have also developed survival mechanism to tolerate various stresses during food processing, including formation of a biofilm. Bacterial resistance to sanitizers is possibly secondary to presence of a biofilm, which is often seen with Salmonella spp., Listeria spp., Campylobacter spp. and several other bacterias. Chemical sanitation methods may delay processing as well as introduce the added risk of cross contaminating foods with cleaning agents.
Current trends in the food industry are towards chemical-free, organic foods. One approach to chemical-free cleaning is “dry” steam cleaning. Dry steam is produced by a jet of superheated, vaporized water that immediately evaporates, leaving behind little to no wastewater production. This process dates back to the 1920s, where dry steam was used to remove grease from heavy machinery. The jet of steam is highly effective at cleaning animal fat and dried, otherwise difficult to remove substances from surfaces and equipment. In the last two decades, smaller and drier units have been made available by suppliers, including AmeriVap, Tecnovap, Goodway, Dupray, Menikini and Steamericas. Portable, dry steam units have the ability to rapidly eliminate difficult-to-remove animal and plant materials from surfaces and equipment. These units leave behind no residue and are nontoxic, fitting well into green cleaning programs. There is therefore increased demand across various industries most likely due to consumer trends towards organic and toxin-free foods. In this study, one of the higher powered and notably portable dry steam cleaners (“the Optima SteamerTM” manufactured by Steamericas, Inc. in Inglewood, CA) was evaluated for the efficacy of removal of food substances and elimination of food pathogens in food substances from stainless steel.
Materials and Methods
Based on commercial and health relevance, four microbes were selected for efficacy studies (see Table 1 above for descriptions and relevance): S. aureus subsp. aureus (ATCC® 6538), L. monocytogenes (ATCC 19111), Campylobacter coli (ATCC 33559), and S. enterica subsp. enterica (ex Kauffman and Edwards) Le Minor and Popoff serovar Choleraesuis (ATCC® 10708D-5). Bacteria were purchased from ATCC (Manassas, VA) and maintained and tested for the ability to generate colony-forming units (CFUs) following procedures and using growth and test agar plates as described in the respective product sheets found on the ATCC website (Staphylococcus aureus subsp. aureus, ATCC 6538, http://www.atcc.org/Products/All/6538.aspx#documentation, Listeria monocytogenes, ATCC 19111, http://www.atcc.org/Products/All/19111.aspx#documentation, Campylobacter coli ATCC 33559, http://www.atcc.org/Products/All/33559.aspx#documentation, and Salmonella enterica subsp. enterica, ex Kauffman and Edwards, Le Minor and Popoff serovar Choleraesuis, ATCC 10708D-5, http://www.atcc.org/Products/All/10708D-5.aspx#documentation).
Five food-like substances were selected: pasteurized whole vitamin D milk, sterile organic beef broth, sterile organic chicken broth, sterile drinking water (later purchased from Vons, Anaheim, CA) and sheep blood (Sierra for Medical, Whittier, CA). The selected test surface was 4” × 4” custom stainless steel plates with holes drilled at each corner for mounting (Stainless Supply, Monroe, NC). A “target zone” of 5.1 cm2 was drawn with a waterproof marking pen (Sharpie™) using a circular template. Plates were enclosed in tin foil and autoclaved for 35 minutes at a pressure and temperature of 1.0–1.5 bars and 125 °C that resulted in sterilization, as indicated by autoclave indicator tape. Stainless steel plates were washed and reused for multiple test runs and sterile conditions were maintained throughout all procedures. At room temperature, sterile stainless steel plates were transferred to a class II biohazard hood. An aliquot of late log-phase culture was diluted in culture medium and an estimated 5,000 cells were transferred to 500 µL of matrix solution and mixed by pipette re-pipette five times. A sterile swab was immersed in the solution and used to swab the target area five times. The swab was then re-introduced into the solution and the plate was turned 90 degrees and swabbed again five times. Inoculated plates were transferred to the exposure chamber in their tinfoil wrappers.
The exposure chamber consisted of a modified glove box (Plas-Labs, Lansing, MI) with a pass-through chamber. Operators wore a biohazard suit, full-face respirator and double gloves during operations and the study was conducted in a room with HEPA filtration designed for sterile and biohazard workflow. A 0.22-µm filter (OptiScale Capsule Durapore 0.22-µm filter; Millipore, Billerica, MA) was added to the exposure chamber air input port. The output ports were fitted with tubing, which passed through a 4-L and then 2-L vacuum flasks prior to vacuum pumps. The 4-L vacuum flask was filled with a 50% bleach solution and constructed such that air coming from the chamber bubbled through the bleach solution prior to the second dry vacuum flask. One output port was a general exhaust that could be toggled to clear the pass-through chamber or the chamber itself. The second output port was fitted with a large diameter funnel, which was used to clear the line and ensure a steady flow of steam prior to exposures (described below). The chamber was fitted with a dehumidifier (Frigidaire), which operated continuously during and after exposures. Routine clean up was conducted after each exposure using 70% isopropanol. A squeegee and sponge were used for cleaning between test runs. Excess liquid was treated with bleach to create a 10% solution and then transferred to bottles and autoclaved prior to disposal. The dry steam generator (Optima SteamerTM) was in an adjacent room with a hose that entered through the wall and then into the sealed exposure chamber. Deionized water was used in the steamer, eliminating the need for an anti-scaling agent that could potentially contaminate food or introduce additional variables to the study. The dry steam generator nozzle (“gun”) clamped to the test armature. The test armature was constructed using standard lab clamps, stands and bars; on one side the nozzle was mounted and the other side was the mounting hardware for the stainless steel plates. For all conditions, the end of the nozzle was 15 cm from the stainless steel plate. The nozzle rotated to one side to allow pre-clearing by directing the vapor jet into a vacuum-driven funnel to clear the steamer hose of cool water or rotation to inline with the center of the test target. When the nozzle valve was manually opened, the dry hot steam vapor jet extended the entire length of the exposure chamber, approximately 3 feet, and when directed at the target 15 cm from the end of the nozzle resulted in significant reflection of the vapor jet; filling the entire enclosure with steam. The vapor jet had a significant force; in several cases, the target was displaced. After longer exposures, stainless steel plates were noticeably hot to touch by gloved hand. Even after a 2-second exposure, careful inspection indicated that the target was free of any color or visible residue (e.g., no red color was present anywhere on the steel plates after two seconds of cleaning blood from the target), indicating a high cleaning power for these food matrices from stainless steel.
During preliminary testing, it was found that the efficacy of the steam output was most noticeable when the steam hose was first cleared of condensation and the steamer was run continuously until the steam was increased in temperature and was dry. Therefore, the nozzle valve was manually opened for 5 minutes (or longer) during exposures, until a dry, hot steam jet was produced, at which point, the nozzle was then redirected towards the target and a timer was set. In some cases, there was as much as a 3-second timing error due to the movement and direction of the steam jet or reduced visibility of the target. When visibility was reduced, the operator had to rely on the mechanics of the armature for targeting, which may explain some of the variability in the data. Also of note, a dehumidifier and vacuum pumps were run for 5–20 minutes to clear the chamber before removal of the test plate for analysis.
After exposure, the plates were transferred to sterile tinfoil stored in the pass-through chamber and then transferred to a class II biosafety cabinet. A sterile swab was immersed in sterile phosphate buffered saline (PBS) and was used to remove surface microbes by swabbing 10 times horizontally, starting at the top and working downward, swabbing 10 times vertically moving left to right. The swab was then immersed in 500 µL PBS and vigorously shaken. A 10-fold serial dilution series was performed by transferring 50 µL from the highest concentration to sterile tubes with 450 µL PBS, mixed by pipette re-pipette and so forth. One hundred microliters of serial diluent was transferred to appropriate agar media. The plates were labeled, placed in an incubator and monitored for colony development. When colonies emerged, they were counted and recorded. Values were expressed as the number of CFUs or as a percent survival as compared to control. The number of cells detected was quite variable and ranged from too numerous to count (TNTC) to 0; which was not expected. Variability may have resulted from recovery procedures or some other factor that was not identified. CFU counts spanned a relatively broad range and were particularly difficult for Campylobacter. CFU counts should be regarded as estimates in all cases.
Results and Discussion
Preliminary studies were conducted to optimize various parameters as well as test the exposure chamber and testing procedures (data not shown). Table 2 shows recovery of S. aureus subsp. aureus in the five food matrices expressed as CFU/5.1 cm2. CFUs for mock exposures (“control”) were variable. However after an 8-second cleaning, in all food substances tested, levels were reduced to less than 1% or not detectable.
S. aureus subsp. aureus added to five common foods and either mock cleaned or cleaned for 8 seconds using the Optima SteamerTM. See Methods section for details. TNTC: too numerous to count; ND: not detectable (no colonies present on test plate); CFU: colony-forming units.
For each bacterium, a specific relevant food matrix was studied. Table 3 (below) shows results for five repeated tests (some performed on the same day, others repeated on separate days, all with fresh bacterial cultures) for control and 8-second cleaning. S. aureus and C. coli were reduced below the limits of detection. L. monocytogenes was reduced to an average of less than 1 CFU. There was no clear explanation for the poor recovery of L. monocytogenes in this test system. S. enterica was reduced to less than 1%.
Recovery of 4 common food pathogens after addition to the appropriate food matrix, application to stainless steel plates and cleaning for 8 seconds. Values collected for serial dilution as appropriate and expressed as corrected for dilution CFUs. TNTC: too numerous to count; ND: not detectable (no colonies present on test plate).
The results of the study demonstrate that the dry steam cleaner studied, under the optimized laboratory conditions studied here, significantly reduced food particles such that they could no longer be seen, and significantly reduced the pathogens studied here from stainless steel after an 8 second cleaning. These studies suggest that controlled use of a dry steam cleaner is an effective method to significantly decreasing food pathogens from stainless steel.
Steamericas is a supplier of commercial and industrial cleaning products. Learn more by visiting Steamericas.com.
1. Chen, Y, KM Jackson, FP Chea and DW Schaffner. 2001. Quantification and variability analysis of bacterial cross-contamination rates in common food service tasks. J Food Prot 64:72–80.
2. Kusumaningrum, HD, G Riboldi, WC Hazeleger, and RR Beumer. 2003. Survival of foodborne pathogens on stainless steel surfaces and cross-contamination to foods. Int J Food Microbiol 85:227–236.
3. Taormina, PJ and LR Beachat. 2001. Survival and heat resistance of Listeria monocytogenes after exposure to alkali and chlorine. Appl Environ Microbiol 67(6):2555–2563.
5. Scallan E, Hoekstra RM, Angulo FJ, Tauxe RV, Widdowson MA, Roy SL, Jones JL, Griffin PM. Foodborne illness acquired in the United States—major pathogens. Emerging infectious diseases. 2011;17(1):7-15.
6. Cramer, MM. 2013. Food Plant Sanitation: Design, maintenance, and Good Manufacturing Practices, 2nd Ed. CRC Press.
10. NSF Protocol P448. 2014. Sanitization performance of commercial steam generators.
Food Fraud a Bigger Problem Than Many Realize, Experts Say
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2015/08/food-fraud-a-bigger-problem-than-many-realize-experts-say/#.Vd0g7hEViUl
By James Andrews (Aug 20, 2015)
Fish-counter_406x250Pick up any item in the supermarket and read through the ingredient labeling. Nearly all of the ingredients listed have the potential to be vulnerable to food fraud, according to food fraud investigator Mitchell Weinberg.
“Around the world, food fraud is an epidemic. In every single country where food is produced or grown, food fraud is occurring,” Weinberg said to a roomful of food safety professionals at last month’s annual meeting of the International Association for Food Protection (IAFP) in Portland, OR.
Weinberg, a former attorney, is founder, president and CEO of INSCATECH, a food fraud detection agency that plants “undercover operatives” in foreign food facilities that supply food and ingredients to the U.S. food industry.
Joining him on a panel presentation discussing food fraud was George Hughes, senior adviser for the Office of Criminal Investigations at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and Andrew Clarke, director of certification and audit for Maple Leaf Foods.
According to the presenters, food fraud is much more prevalent than most American consumers understand. It affects everything from seafood to milk, spices and even food coloring — anything with “even a moderate economic value,” as Weinberg put it.
Food fraud is, of course, not a new phenomenon, as Clarke pointed out in his presentation. Since the 13th century, Britain has had laws against diluting wine with water, adding ash to pepper, or padding flour with chalk.
But food fraud trends appear to be worsening these days. Recent years have seen a rise in the number of fraud cases involving deadly adulterants, as well as an increase in fraudulent labeling and legal prosecution for food fraud.
More high-profile food fraud cases than the speakers had time to address have occurred just in the past year.
In June, more than 100,000 tons of smuggled, frozen, expired meat — some of it decades old — was seized in China from groups selling it for consumption. In September, global walnut crop failures lead to an increase in fraudulent peanut substitution. South Africa experienced an enormous recall of supermarket products in October after they were found to be colored with banned dyes.
A fraud case can be as simple as a steak producer selling a cut as certified Angus when it truly isn’t, Clarke said.
The most visceral audience reaction came from another case out of China: undercover video of fake rice being produced in China out of plastic resin and sweet potato.
“Three cups of this rice is equivalent to eating a plastic shopping bag,” Weinberg said.
FDA has approximately 200 agents worldwide in its criminal investigations office, most of who came from the Secret Service or the FBI. They investigate cases of food fraud, product tampering, and the manufacture of counterfeit or unapproved drugs, according to Hughes.
Often, Hughes said, food fraud can indicate that a company’s executives are committing other illegal or dubious acts. In the case of Peanut Corporation of America (PCA) and its fraudulent sale of contaminated peanuts, for example, the company was also found to be selling cheap peanuts substituted in with a pricier variety, he said.
In big fraud cases, FDA prosecutors may charge companies with everything from conspiracy (if more than one person worked together to deceive) to mail fraud (if fraudulent items were shipped).
“Our objective is to hit these guys so hard with as many violations as possible that [the industry will be compelled to] do the right thing,” Hughes said.
The recent criminal case involving PCA and its former CEO, Stewart Parnell, will likely see the biggest penalty in FDA’s criminal prosecution history, Hughes added.
Worldwide, INTERPOL tracks food fraud activities in 47 countries, according to Clarke. Those included counterfeit alcohol, bottled water from unclean sources, and fish treated with hydrogen peroxide to fake freshness.
Despite the dire statistics, the panelists discussed efforts to curb food fraud, including increased prosecution and the need for food companies to enhance their interaction with suppliers.
In many cases, U.S. companies should be physically inspecting their food suppliers or finding some other method to monitor their activities to make sure that no fraud is taking place, Weinberg said. No other efforts can deter misbehavior like the threat of losing business, he added.
Ohio Botulism Outbreak a Somber Reminder About Canning Food Safely
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2015/08/osu-extension-botulism-outbreak-a-somber-reminder-about-canning-safely/#.Vd0hSxEViUl
By Martha Filipic (Aug 20, 2015)
(This article by Martha Filipic, a writer/editor with the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences at The Ohio State University, was originally posted here on Aug. 17, 2015, and is reposted with permission.)
It was a church potluck like any other. But within days, botulism killed one Fairfield County woman and hospitalized 24 others. It was from potato salad, made with improperly home-canned potatoes.
Foodborne botulism is rare, but the April 2015 incident was a somber reminder of the importance of strictly following home food preservation guidelines, said Shannon Carter, family and consumer sciences educator in Fairfield County for Ohio State University Extension. OSU Extension is the outreach arm of The Ohio State University’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.
Last year, Carter offered two home-food preservation classes to county residents. This year, she offered 10. And those were just a few of the classes offered by OSU Extension across the state. Listings are available at fcs.osu.edu/food-safety/home-food-preservation, along with links to how-to videos and other resources.
“Foodborne botulism can be caused by using the wrong canning method,” Carter said. A pressure canner, rather than a simple boiling water bath, is necessary to kill botulism spores in low-acid canned foods such as meat, potatoes and other vegetables.
“But people still water-bath their green beans and other foods,” Carter said. “And if they’ve done it that way successfully for years, why would they change?”
Even if canning jars are properly sealed, botulism spores can grow. In fact, such spores can grow only in a sealed environment without oxygen, Carter said, along with high-moisture and low-acid conditions.
“Water boils at 212 degrees,” she said. “If you have a boiling water canner, you can boil something for three, five, even 25 hours, and it will still only get to 212 degrees. To kill Clostridium botulinum spores in low-acid foods, you need to get the temperature up to 250 degrees, and the only way to do that is to use a pressure canner.”
Official home food preservation guidelines, available online at the National Center for Home Food Preservation, are periodically updated, Carter said. So, if you are following old guidelines, you aren’t getting the most accurate information.
For example, tomatoes used to be considered a high-acid food, but today’s varieties are often right on the line between high-acid and low-acid, so citric acid or vinegar must be added to them before being canned.
Also, standard household vinegar is now often at a lower strength than it used to be, Carter said, so following old recipes, possibly passed down for generations, that call for vinegar to acidify a food for water bath canning may not provide the margin of safety necessary.
Many people who have canned for years — even decades — are unaware of new recommendations, she said. And, surprisingly, she added, canning methods portrayed on televised food shows, websites, and even in some cookbooks are often improper.
“People don’t know what they don’t know,” Carter said “So we’ve been trying to get information out to people. It’s important.”
Deb Kilbarger, registered sanitarian and food program supervisor for the Fairfield Department of Health, said the April incident was the first time she and her colleagues, some of whom had worked in public health for decades, had seen a case of foodborne botulism, “let alone an outbreak.”
The crisis made a lot of people sit up and take notice, said Kelly Spindler, registered sanitarian and director of environmental health for the department.
“It helped people understand how serious food safety is, what can go wrong if food is not properly prepared or held at the proper temperatures, and, in canning, how important it is to follow certain procedures,” Spindler said.
Aubry Shaw, of Grove City, attended two of Carter’s sessions this summer. She still misses her mother-in-law, Kim Shaw — the woman who died in the botulism outbreak.
“She was always smiling,” Shaw said. “She was a wonderful mother. She was a great provider for the family. She would go out of her way to do anything for anybody. She was amazing.”
The personal experience of losing someone to foodborne botulism drew Shaw — and her grandmother — to participate in Carter’s canning classes.
“Even if you’ve had some experience in canning, there’s always something you can learn,” Shaw said. “That’s why it’s important to come to classes like this. I think food safety programs like this from the Extension office are incredible.”
In fact, Kilbarger said, she knows of no other organization that offers home food preservation classes like Extension’s.
“Anyone who cans should take the class,” Kilbarger said. “Even if you’ve been doing it forever, there might be a safer way. Hopefully, these classes will prevent anything like this from happening again.”
Shaw provided an additional word of guidance: “If you home can, just be safe about it. If you have canned something and it doesn’t seem quite right, just throw it out. It’s not worth taking a chance.”
A Food Safety Test We Have Yet To Pass
Source : http://healthaffairs.org/blog/2015/08/20/a-food-safety-test-we-have-yet-to-pass/
By Robin Stombler (Aug 20, 2015)
Back in 1987 The Wall Street Journal shocked health care consumers and awakened the U.S. clinical community with these headlines:
•“Lax Laboratories: The Pap test misses much cervical cancer through labs’ errors” (Walt Bogdanich, November 2, 1987)
•“Physician’s carelessness with Pap tests is cited in procedure’s high failure rate” (Walt Bogdanich, December 29, 1987)
•“Medical labs, trusted as largely error-free, are far from infallible” (Walt Bogdanich, February 2, 1987)
•“Risk Factor: inaccuracy in testing cholesterol hampers war on heart disease” (Walt Bogdanich, February 3, 1987)
It took this Pulitzer Prize winning reporting to usher in comprehensive regulatory oversight of clinical laboratory testing performed on patients. Even though quality standards now exist for clinical laboratories, today’s food laboratories remain largely free of regulatory oversight. That needs to change long before we read disturbing headlines related to food testing.
“Our food is literally our lifeline,” pointed out the Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Fred Upton, in June 2015. Recognizing such, a food safety system, which relies on the accuracy and quality of testing results, should require the use of laboratory standards and encourage appropriate oversight. While recognized quality standards and accreditation for food testing laboratories exist, their use is voluntary and not widely employed.
The 2011 Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) recognized this need. Section 202 of the law calls for the establishment of a program for the testing of food by accredited laboratories, and for a registry of accreditation bodies recognized by the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). It also calls for the HHS Secretary to develop model standards that laboratories must meet in order to be accredited.
Yet, these provisions, which were due to be enacted no later than 2013, were not part of the seven already released FSMA proposed rules. In fact, the majority of those seven proposed rules make reference to food laboratory testing in some capacity, but the provision stating how testing should be performed has not yet been proposed. Most concerning, a provision within one of those proposed rules suggested, “… we tentatively conclude that it is not appropriate to specify standards of testing in the regulation…” due to the “diversity of hazards and foods that could potentially be tested.”
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) held numerous public meetings on FSMA and its proposed rules, but except for a couple of intrepid organizations, commentary on the laboratory provisions was largely silent. With the recognition that a modern food safety system would rely on laboratory results for product testing, environmental monitoring, and verification activities, some in the laboratory community were dismayed by the lack of action to ensure that testing is performed accurately and reliably. A louder voice was needed.
Organizing The Food Laboratory Community
To provide that voice, the Food Laboratory Alliance was created in 2013 to address the quality of food laboratory testing through information, education, regulation, and guidance. The Alliance is supported by food laboratories, providers of food laboratory products and services, and consumers — all pledging a strong commitment to laboratory testing quality and accuracy.
In addition, food laboratory leaders have been speaking out. In the Green Bay Press Gazette, Debra Cherney, Founder and CEO of Cherney Microbiological Services, a food testing laboratory and a member of the Alliance, noted: “Without these testing standards, we don’t know if all food laboratories are accurately detecting pathogens that cause foodborne illnesses. While some food laboratories, like mine, are accredited and follow recognized standards, there are many that are not. This is a problem with an easy solution.”
The President of Eurofins, Mary Kay Krogull, stated in The Des Moines Register, “By performing more than 100 million tests each year, we help to establish the safety, composition, authenticity, origin, traceability, and purity of food. Yet, our role in food safety is often unseen. This ostensible anonymity provides all the more reason that the food industry demand strong standards and accreditation for all food testing laboratories.”
The Alliance has attracted these, and other leaders in the laboratory and consumer communities who feel an urgency to speak out now before a new food safety system is built without the proper foundation for laboratory testing.
What Is Needed
At this point in time, no one accurately knows the total number of laboratories in the United States performing testing. There is no basis for the public accounting for these facilities, whether located inside a food facility or as an outside contract laboratory. FSMA rightly requires HHS to establish a registry of recognized accreditation bodies and those laboratories they accredit. This information is to include names and contact information, and should be publicly available, to the extent that national security allows.
While some food laboratory accreditation agencies self-report their accredited clients on public websites, there is no central accounting. Section 202 of FSMA would remedy that problem, assist in the provision of tracking, and provide food facilities and the public with valuable information.
The Alliance wants to see all food laboratories accredited to the international standard, International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 17025, which provides general requirements for the competence of testing and calibration laboratories. To aid in understanding the essential requirements for food testing analyses, guidance documents are offered through organizations such as the AOAC International and its “Guidelines for Laboratories Performing Microbiological and Chemical Analyses of Food and Pharmaceuticals.”
Model laboratory standards should include elements essential to accurate testing analytics, such as quality control, proficiency testing, and education and training for laboratory personnel. The FSMA calls for model laboratory standards to ensure a level playing field of expectation for all accreditation bodies and laboratories.
Applying Model Laboratory Standards
Microbiologics, a global provider of biological reference materials and a member of the Alliance, commissioned a survey in 2015 to ascertain the level of laboratory standards currently employed by food laboratories. In terms of proficiency testing, respondents stated that 52 percent of contract laboratories participated in proficiency testing, and 48 percent stated that they did not know if their contract laboratory participated in proficiency testing. Fifteen percent of respondents stated that their onsite laboratories did not participate in proficiency testing.
Proficiency testing is an objective method used to assess analytical performance and verifies that performance against broad practice trends. It is used to improve practices by identifying problem areas sooner than if proficiency testing results were not applied. By using proficiency testing for verification of testing accuracy, it is possible to detect areas of failed performance sooner. All food laboratories should utilize proficiency testing, but the survey indicates that this is not occurring.
TIME Magazine noted a 14-year study by the American Proficiency Institute, another Alliance member, which determined, on average, food laboratories had a false negative result rate of 9.1 percent for Campylobacter and 4.9 percent for Salmonella. False positive rates were reported on average as 3.9 percent for Salmonella and 2.5 percent for E. coli. This data was compiled from food laboratories that voluntarily participate in proficiency testing.
False negative test results, which may lead to a contaminated product entering the market, may expose consumers to foodborne illness or death. When a contaminant-free product is incorrectly rejected due to a false positive test result, economic losses and loss of trust in the food brand or commodity may be a consequence.
Labs Integral To Safety
The FSMA mentions “laboratory (ies)” 57 times and “laboratory test” 29 times. In a nutshell, food laboratories are integral to food safety. Yet, without regulatory oversight, we do not know which food laboratories are performing testing and if recognized standards are applied to the performance of that testing.
The results of these laboratory tests can mean the difference between food going to market or being recalled from the grocery shelves. It can mean the difference between sickness or health. Accuracy is key. To get there, section 202 of FSMA should be promulgated now, in conjunction with other elements of the law that require food testing.
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Who Comes Out on Top? Food Safety vs. Individual Rights
Source : http://www.foodsafetymagazine.com/enewsletter/who-comes-out-on-top-food-safety-vs-individual-rights/
By Kathy Hardee, Esq. (Aug 18, 2015)
In June 2015, food safety proponents were horrified at the $2.2M jury verdict against an employer who used voluntary DNA testing to determine which of its employees had been intentionally adulterating food stored in its warehouse. While the facts of the case are bizarre and the verdict more than surprising, the decision does not pose an impediment to a food facility’s ability to effectuate a comprehensive food safety program. Instead, the case serves as a reminder that other legal rights and duties continue to exist that cannot be trampled or ignored in the quest to continually heighten the safety of this country’s food supply systems.
The case, Lowe v. Atlas Logistics Group Retail Services (Atlanta), LLC, sitting in the Northern District of Georgia, arose when Atlas Logistics Group Retail Services (“Atlas”) discovered that human feces were intentionally being left in the aisles of its grocery warehouse distribution center. Atlas investigated and created a list of employees who it believed could potentially be responsible, based upon work shifts, areas of responsibility, etc. Given the nature of the “adulteration” that threatened the food products, Atlas asked the select list of employees to submit to a voluntary DNA test. Both Jack Lowe and Dennis Reynolds consented to the DNA test and both had results which exculpated them. Neither were thereafter terminated or in any way reprimanded. Both then filed claims with the EEOC and later filed a lawsuit against Atlas under the federal Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act (GINA) that prohibits employers from requesting, requiring or purchasing genetic information relating to employees. Finding that asking employees to submit to a voluntary DNA test was a violation of GINA, the Georgia jury awarded $475,000 in compensatory damages for mental anguish and damage to reputation and another $1.75M in punitive damages.
The GINA was drafted to prohibit employment discrimination and health insurance consequences on the basis of genetic information. Congress expressed concerns about the misuse of genetic information available about employees through healthcare, citing numerous examples of inappropriate uses of genetic information against certain groups in this country’s past. To that end, GINA prohibits employers from even asking for genetic information, except in six very limited exceptions. While GINA was obviously not drafted with the facts of this lawsuit in mind, it was prepared to protect legitimate personal privacy rights.
At first glance, the result seems absurd. Food was being adulterated, rendering them unsafe and potentially putting consumers at risk. The responsible defecator(s) could potentially be identified by DNA results. Atlas asked a narrow list of employees for a voluntary DNA sample. At first glance, the scenario seems a reasonable action to be taken by the facility owner under the circumstances. But the employees testified that the DNA test was not “voluntary” because they feared loss of their jobs if they did not cooperate. The employees also testified they were concerned whether their DNA results would be stored or used for other purposes. Remember that even state and federal law enforcement have rigid limitations on the collection and use of DNA evidence.
With so much effort being invested to improve the safety of this country’s food supply systems, we cannot forget this isn’t the only game in town. This country has long struggled with the balancing of the rights of individuals with those for the common good of society. And as science develops at a rate of speed much faster than laws can keep up, the balancing of those rights is often left to the court system to decipher when Congress has yet to clarify the overlaps. What is clear is that our history is replete with examples of new laws, social concerns and efforts to protect the common good that may step on the rights of individuals, intentionally or not, until the conflict and balancing of those competing interests are brought before a court of law.
As an example of the competing interests of society’s common good with individual rights, the recent outbreak of Ebola in this country created a massive medical effort to prevent the spread of the disease and creation of a pandemic. In an effort to protect society as a whole from the disease, the confidential HIPPA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) rights of affected individuals were at times violated and in some cases released publically. Lawsuits are pending.
A topic hotly debated and yet to be resolved is the right of parents to choose whether to vaccinate their children. Parents argue that it is their personal right to choose what medical care (i.e., vaccinations) to subject their children to, and, in some instances, it involves implications of religious freedoms. The growing backlash centers on the rights of society and, in particular, other children to not be subjected to life-threatening diseases. No blanket answer or law has yet been determined. But the debate and its solution will require a balancing of those personal and societal rights.
Likewise, the new laws insuring the safety of the food supply in this country are widely acknowledged as necessary for the protection of the good of consumers in this country as a whole. But in the rush to implement the Food Safety Modernization Act and associated regulations, let us not lose sight that there are other pre-existing laws and rules that already exist, laws that often protect the rights of individuals and cannot be disregarded in our zealous effort to reach these new goals. To the extent these laws and rights conflict, there will be litigation to come, which will require courts to determine how these rights can be balanced.
On a lighter note, the Georgia trial court in the Atlas case granted a motion for remittitur last week and reduced all damages awarded by the jury to $300,000 for Mr. Lowe and $300,000 for Mr. Reynolds. Still not a bad day at the office.
Home Canning, Food Safety, and Botulism
Source : http://wxedge.com/2015/08/18/home-canning-food-safety-and-botulism/
By Diane Wright Hirsch for UConn Extension (Aug 20, 2015)
As an Extension educator, I have been teaching folks how to can for more than thirty years. And still, what worries folks the most is botulism poisoning. While it continues to be very rare, when it does occur, it is often associated with improperly home canned food. So, it makes sense to keep the possibility of this deadly toxin in the back of your head when canning.
In April of this year, a deadly botulism outbreak reminded us of how important it is to use methods for home canning that are tested for safety and recommended by science based resources. At a pot luck event at a church in Ohio, patrons were served potato salad that had been made from home canned potatoes. It turns out that the home cook had used a water bath process—which is inappropriate for low acid foods like potatoes. Twenty-nine cases of botulism were identified out of the 77 attendees. Twenty-five met the case definition and were given botulinum anti-toxin. One person died.
Botulism is caused by Clostridium botulinum bacteria. These bacteria live in the soil where we grow fruits and vegetables. In order to produce toxin, the bacterium needs an environment that is low in acid, moist, and free of oxygen. Therefore, this is not a hazard to foods that are safely canned in a water bath canner. Most fruits, pickles, and other properly acidified foods with a pH of less than 4.6 do not provide the environment conducive to toxin formation—they are too acidic. That is why these foods ARE safely canned in a water bath canner that reaches 212 degrees F during processing (or the boiling point of water).
Low acid or high pH foods (4.6 or greater) are another story. C. botulinum is a spore former. This means that when it is confronted with a hostile environment (heating in a canner), it forms a spore or coat to protect itself. This spore cannot be destroyed by temperatures at the boiling point of water associated with a water bath canner. If a water bath canner is used to can low acid foods, the spores will survive the heating, then they will germinate once the jar is placed on the shelf. These bacteria will then produce the deadly neurotoxin in the moist, oxygen free canning jar environment. Only a pressure canner can provide enough heat to destroy the spores—temperatures at 240 degrees F.
Home food processors need also to be reminded that they are not commercial processors. They do not have access to commercial equipment, additives and other processes that can render some food products safe from the botulism toxin. In addition, commercial processors must adhere to strict US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) rules and follow science based recipes and processes that they have proved-in advance of production-to be safe. So think twice before developing your own recipes for canning low acid or acidified foods at home.
Follow these basic rules for safe canning and there is no reason to fear botulism, home canning, or, for that matter, the use of a (preferably) newer model pressure canner, which has all sorts of safety mechanisms built in.
•Jams, jellies and preserves are safely canned in a water bath canner. These products generally have a low water activity that contributes to safety and shelf life.
•Fruits are generally acidic and safely canned in a water bath canner.
•Spoilage organisms such as yeasts and molds can still be a problem in water bathed foods if not canned using methods tested for safety.
•Tomatoes are a special case. They are often borderline in pH—sometimes exceeding 4.6. It is recommended that you add 1 tablespoon of bottled, commercial lemon juice or ¼ teaspoon of citric acid to pint jars or 2 tablespoons of lemon juice and ½ teaspoon of citric acid to quart jars as an “insurance policy” to ensure that the pH is low enough to process in a water bath canner. Current recommendations for water bath canners range from a 45-minute process (water added) to an 85-minute process (straight-up tomatoes)! It actually makes more sense to process tomatoes in a pressure canner—times are just about half that in a water bath.
•Acidified foods such as pickles, pickled vegetables or fermented foods rely on the acidifying process to bring the pH to the range for safe canning in a water bath canner. (The addition of vinegar or the process of fermentation that creates lactic acid are examples of acidifying processes.) Be sure in this case to only use tested recipes. Never add a few more cucumbers or a bit less vinegar. You are risking raising the pH to levels that botulinum may find attractive.
•ALL other foods MUST be canned in a pressure canner. Carrots, green beans, corn, and yes, potatoes; meats, fish, poultry; mixtures that might include tomatoes and low acid ingredients such as a meat sauce or spaghetti sauce with onions and peppers; and any foods made from these foods—soups, stews, etc.
Finally, keep in mind that home canned foods should never find their way into a commercial operation, retail store or restaurant. You cannot sell them in Connecticut, unless you are a farmer who can make and sell jams, jellies, and acidified foods such as pickles. And, it would be wise to ban them from church suppers, potlucks, bake sales and other similar volunteer food events. You just never know if a well-meaning home canner has followed the right directions.
For more information about safe home canning, visit the National Center for Home Food Preservation at www.uga.edu/nchfp or the University of Connecticut Food Safety web page at www.foodsafety.uconn.edu. You may also contact the UConn Home and Garden Education Center at 877-486-6271 or www.ladybug.uconn.edu.
Cyclospora Sickens 476 in 29 States
Source : https://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2015/cyclospora-sickens-476-in-29-states/
By Carla Gillespie (Aug 18, 2015)
At least 476 people in 29 states have parasitic infections from food contaminated with Cyclospora, according to the latest report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Some of the infections have been linked to cilantro imported from Mexico. And some have been linked food served at restaurants.
Symptoms of a Cyclospora infection, called cyclosporiasis, can last up to two months and include explosive diarrhea, abdominal cramps, bloating, gas, nausea, fatigue, loss of appetite, weight loss, vomiting, body aches, low-grade fever, and other flu-like symptoms. These symptoms can also last more than 60 days.
Cyclospora Food PoisoningAbout 60 percent of the illnesses ave occurred since May 1. Texas has been hardest hit with at least 243 cases. Some of them were linked to food served at restaurants. Wisconsin and Georgia have also reported illnesses associated with restaurant food. However, health officials have not released the names of any of those establishments.
Anyone who is experiencing symptoms of an infection, should see a doctor. Cyclosporiasis can be treated with antibiotics.
Australia's Foodborne Illness Rates Decline... Except Salmonella
Source : http://www.foodsafetymagazine.com/news/australias-foodborne-illness-rates-decline-except-salmonella/
By Staff (Aug 17, 2015)
Australia's Foodborne Illness Rates Decline... Except Salmonella
A report by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation last week says that foodborne illness rates in Australia are on the decline--except for Salmonella.
From 2000 to 2010, the rate of foodborne illness cases diminished in Australia from 4.3 million to 4.1 million--quite an accomplishment considering how much more convoluted the food supply chain must have become over the course of 10 years.
But the same does not ring true for cases of Salmonella.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, the cause of Salmonella is many in number, including unsanitary handling of food or improper cooking of raw food items. The bacteria has seen a 50 percent increase in the Australian state of Victoria in the past 3 years, according to Victoria’s Department of Health. In Queensland, Salmonella rates are two times what they were last year.
To help combat this risk, new guidelines have been released by the Fresh Produce Safety Centre Australia New Zealand--an independent nonprofit--to help spread knowledge about proper food safety standards. The organization agreed that a Hepatitis A outbreak caused by frozen berries a few months ago was a preventable outbreak, causing them to focus their education efforts on Australia.
"It made 30 people ill. It could have had significantly greater impact if it wasn't nipped in the bud as it was," says Richard Bennett, technology manager for the Fresh Produce Safety Centre and the Fresh Produce Marketing Australia New Zealand.
One of the biggest lessons the nonprofit hopes to spread is that Salmonella is not just limited to livestock and chickens. Fresh produce is also a high risk. The new guidelines were launched in observance of the Australian Fresh Produce Safety Centre’s first anniversary.
"It is a combination of the best knowledge, experience and research pulled together in one document, applies through the supply chain, from farm to retail, and trans-Tasman, with Australian and New Zealand expertise.”
Their hope--over time--is to make growing and handling food safer for all.
US Antibiotic Resistance Results Positive for Food Safety
Source : http://www.thepoultrysite.com/poultrynews/35618/us-antibiotic-resistance-results-positive-for-food-safety/
By thepoultrysite.com (Aug 17, 2015)
US - The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has reported mostly encouraging results for food safety in its recent report on antibiotic resistance, although some areas of concern remain.
The report looked at antimicrobial resistance patterns in bacteria isolated from humans, retail meats, and animals at slaughter in from 2012 and 2013.
Specifically, the report focuses on major foodborne pathogens that are resistant to antibiotics that are considered important to human medicine, and on multidrug resistant pathogens (described as resistant to three or more classes of antibiotics).
These include pathogens commonly found on poultry products such as Salmonella and Campylobacter.
The FDA said that most of the data indicated that resistance trends were heading in the right direction.
For example, about 80 per cent of human Salmonella isolates are not resistant to any of the tested antibiotics, a finding that has not changed in the past 10 years. Further, resistance to ceftriaxone, azithromycin, and quinolones, three important drugs used to treat human Salmonella isolates, remains below 3 per cent.
Salmonella multi-drug resistance (resistance to three or more classes of antibiotics) in human, cattle, and chicken isolates has not changed (~10 per cent) in the last decade, and the numbers of multi-drug resistant Salmonella isolates in retail chicken have gone down (~3 per cent).
Campylobacter jejuni resistance to the fluoroquinolone ciprofloxacin, the most common antibiotic used to treat human C. jejuni illness, was at its lowest level in retail chicken to date (11 per cent). Campylobacter jejuni causes most human Campylobacter infections.
However, the FDA said it was of concern that multidrug resistance (MDR) in human isolates of a common Salmonella serotype continues to rise. Resistance has more than doubled from 18 per cent in 2011 to 46 per cent in 2013.
An increase in MDR and ceftriaxone resistance was also observed in Salmonella serotype Dublin isolated from cattle and human sources.
Contaminated Beef Destroyed Before Leaving Plant
Source : https://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2015/contaminated-beef-destroyed-before-leaving-plant/
by Linda Larsen (Aug 17, 2015)
Officials in Montana say that malfunctioning equipment may have contaminated beef being processed, but the beef was identified and destroyed before leaving the plant. A water machine that is used to clean carcasses didn’t reach temperatures high enough to kill E. coli and other pathogens.
The ground beef was sampled in a weekly routine and was found to be contaminated. None of it shipped to consumers, according to the Meat Inspection Bureau. The name of the plant and the brand are not being released because no recall was issued.
Whole beef cuts are often contaminated with E. coli O157:H7 and other bacteria. The bacteria are then mixed throughout the product when the meat is ground into hamburger. That is why food safety experts tell consumers to cook hamburgers to well done, or 165°F as measured by a food thermometer.
Last year, a four state outbreak of E. coli O57:H7 linked to ground beef sickened at least 12 people in the U.S. The hospitalization rate for that outbreak was 58%; no deaths were reported. Wolverine Packing Company recalled almost 2 million pounds of ground beef products relating to that outbreak.
Most of those sickened in that outbreak said stye ate “hamburger prepared rare, medium rare, or ‘undercooked'” before becoming ill. Traceback investigations of the ground beef used at restaurants where some of those sickened ate identified Wolverine Packing Company as the source of the ground beef.
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