13 Hours Away From Justice
Source : http://www.foodpoisonjournal.com/foodborne-illness-outbreaks/13-hours-away-from-justice/#.Vf-iHREViUl
By Bill Marler (Sep 20, 2015)
The Parnells and Mary Wilkerson will face the victims, and the court, in just over 13 hours. CNN and AP have been blowing up the internet with the story. Here is part of it:
Federal and state disease detectives traced the deaths of nine people, including Shirley Almer, to PCA’s peanut processing plant in Blakely, Georgia. Another 714 people in 46 states were sickened with Salmonella in 2008.
Stewart Parnell now faces life in prison. His brother and food broker, Michael Parnell, faces at least 17 years, and a plant manager, Mary Wilkerson, could be behind bars for five years. Two other employees pleaded guilty and testified against the Parnells and Wilkerson.
“Our government seems to be sending a clear message that poisoning your customers may well land you in jail,” said Bill Marler, a Seattle food safety lawyer who represented several victims of the outbreak, including Almer.
The prosecution was a rarity, Marler said, because the Department of Justice charged the Parnell brothers and Wilkerson with felonies.
“Prosecutors took a risk and fortunately, the jury believed them,” Marler said. “The jury saw this for what it was. The emails and documents told a story of a company that was more interested in shipping out products than products that were safe.”
CDC: Cyclospora Outbreak Linked to Mexican Cilantro Sickened 546 People
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2015/09/cdc-recent-cyclospora-outbreak-linked-to-mexican-cilantro-is-over/#.Vf-nzREViUl
By News Desk (Sep 20, 2015)
The U.S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has announced that the recent Cyclospora outbreak sickened 546 people from 31 states from May to August. The numbers of reported cases in the U.S. have returned to baseline levels, the agency noted.
CDC stated that epidemiologic and traceback investigations conducted in Texas, Wisconsin, and Georgia by state and local public health and regulatory officials and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) indicated that some illnesses among residents in these states were linked to fresh cilantro from Puebla, Mexico. However, the vehicle(s) of infection for non-cluster-associated cases has not been identified, the agency added.
Most of these persons — 319 (58 percent) of the total of 546 — experienced onset of illness on or after May 1, 2015, and did not have a history of international travel within 2 weeks before illness onset, CDC stated.
These 319 persons were from the following 23 states: Arkansas (3), California (2), Connecticut (5), Florida (13), Georgia (26), Illinois (9), Iowa (1), Kansas (2), Maryland (1), Massachusetts (12), Michigan (2), Missouri (1), Montana (3), Nebraska (1), New Jersey (7), New Mexico (2), New York (excluding NYC) (10), New York City (22), North Carolina (1), Texas (179), Utah (1), Virginia (3), Washington (2), and Wisconsin (11).
Illness onset dates ranged from May 1 to Aug. 22, 2015. Ill persons ranged in age from 15 to 89 years, with a median age of 51 years. Fifty-six percent of ill persons were female, CDC stated.
Previous U.S. outbreaks of cyclosporiasis (the illness caused by the single-celled parasite) have been linked to imported fresh produce, including cilantro from the Puebla region of Mexico. FDA issued an import alert about the cilantro on Aug. 31, 2015.
More information about Cyclospora can be found here.
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Not a Recall: Wegmans Kale Products May Have Listeria
Source : https://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2015/not-a-recall-wegmans-kale-products-may-have-listeria/
By Linda Larsen (Sep 20, 2015)
Wegmans is releasing information about Wegmans Cleaned & Cut Kale Greens and prepared foods made with kale: they may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes bacteria. There are no illnesses reported in connection with the consumption of this product, but listeriosis, the illness caused by this bacteria, can take up to 70 days to appear. These times were sold between July 30 and August 12, 2015.
The statement on their web site says this is not a recall, since the best-by date on the product was August 10, 2015. The product is no longer in stores and should not be in consumers’ homes. But, since the illness caused by the Listeria monocytogenes bacteria can take so long to appear, they are notifying their customers.
The products are Wegmans bagged Cleaned & Cut Kale Greens in 16 ounce packages and Kale Blast Smoothie, both sold in the produce department. The items made with this kale that were sold in Prepared Foods department include Tuscan Roasted Squash and Kale, Garlicky Greens, Kale and Mushroom Casserole, Citrus Sesame Kale Salad, Hail Kale Caesar Salad, Kale Salad with Thai Peanut Sauce, Watermelon Kale Salad, MexiKale Salad, Tuscan Kale Salad, Tuscan Garbanzo Beans with Kale, Roast Pork with Garlic Greens and Cheese, Chicken French pre-packaged meal, Bronzed Tilapia pre-packaged meal, Vegetable pre-packaged meal, Cheese Lasagna pre-packaged meal, Salmon Florentine with Cauliflower and Garlicky Greens, Lemon Garlic Chicken Breast pre-packaged meal, Tilapia pre-packaged meal, and Kale-elujah Sushi Roll. Finally, Potato Crusted Salmon with Greens was made with this product; it was sold only in The Pub by Wegmans restaurants.
The symptoms of listeriosis include flu-like fever and muscle aches, upset stomach or diarrhea, stiff neck, headache, loss of balance, confusion, or convulsions. Pregnant women may only be mildly sick, but this illness can cause miscarriage, stillbirth, and infection in the newborn baby.
Cooking will kill Listeria monocytogenes bacteria, but cross-contamination is always a concern. You may want to clean out your refrigerator with a mild bleach solution if you had the kale or any products made with the kale in your kitchen, since the bacteria can grow at refrigerator temperatures.
If you ate any of these products and experienced the symptoms of listeriosis, see your doctor. The illness can be treated with antibiotics, and it’s best to get treatment at an early stage. Those in high risk groups, including young children, pregnant women, the elderly, and people with chronic illnesses and compromised immune systems, should be especially vigilant.
The need is urgent for a revamp of Hong Kong's food safety regime
Source : http://www.scmp.com/comment/insight-opinion/article/1859706/need-urgent-revamp-hong-kongs-food-safety-regime
By scmp.com (Sep 20, 2015)
Whenever Hong Kong is hit by a major food scare involving lax surveillance or human error, authorities are expected to tighten regimes and hold the culprits accountable. A year after the so-called gutter oil incident in Taiwan spilled over to the city, there has been some progress.
A company director who helped pass off tonnes of lard for animal feed as suitable for human consumption was jailed for two years.
But this is one of many steps that need to be taken. The government should press ahead with the prosecution of other key players and speed up plans for a food safety revamp.
The severity of the crime committed by So Tat-wai was reflected in the harsh criticism made by a District Court judge.
So's company, Eagle View, was found to have issued fake certificates to facilitate the export of lard from a Hong Kong supplier for 14 years.
The product would not have made it to Taiwan without the certificates.
As the judge rightly pointed out, So and his company had contributed to a food scandal that had a "tsunami-like" effect on consumer confidence, business reputations and the economy. Those who put profit above public safety were disgraceful and immoral, he said.
The scandal first emerged as Hong Kong being a victim of tainted oil found in Taiwan, with many products imported from the island removed from the shelves. But it soon turned into our own problem after it was found that some oil ingredients were imported from the city.
So played an instrumental role in cheating the system, as did the local company which allegedly paid him to forge the documentation.
Earlier, two key figures in the tainted-oil scandal were jailed 12 and 20 years respectively by a Taiwan court. Justice will not be fully served until all those responsible are tried and punished.
The importance of a reputable food safety regime cannot be overstated. The scandal has exposed serious inadequacies in monitoring.
The government should speed up the food safety revamp, including bolstering licensing and tracing systems.
Fatality, Miscarriage in Listeria Outbreak Linked to Soft Cheeses
Source : https://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2015/fatality-miscarriage-in-listeria-outbreak-linked-to-soft-cheeses/
By Carla Gillespie (Sep 18, 2015)
A Listeria outbreak linked to soft cheeses has sickened 24 people, killing one of them and causing one miscarriage, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The cases, reported from nine states over a five-year period, are associated with cheeses produced by Karoun Dairies, Inc. of San Fernando, California which have been recalled.
The recalled products are vacuum packed, in jars or in pails under the brands: Karoun, Arz, Gopi, Queso Del Valle, Central Valley Creamery, Gopi, and Yanni. Weights vary from 5 ounces to 30 pounds. They were distributed to nationwide to grocery stores and food service accounts. Two of the stores that carried the recalled products are Publix and Sam’s Club.
Consumers who have purchased these cheese should not eat them as Listeria can cause serious illness and death. (The recalled products are listed in Karoun Dairies link above.)
This outbreak includes five rare DNA fingerprints of Listeria. Health investigators used whole genome sequencing (WGS) to identify 24 cases from nine states since August 8, 2010. By state, the case count is as follows: California (14), Colorado (1), Illinois (1), Massachusetts (2), Michigan (1), New York (2), Ohio (1), Tennessee (1), and Washington (1).
Twenty-one people were hospitalized. Five of the cases were pregnancy-related, one them resulted in a miscarriage. The death was reported from Ohio.
Those at high risk of Listeria infections are young children, seniors, those with compromised immune systems and pregnant women. Symptoms of an infection include high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea.
The CDC says the “investigation has not conclusively identified the source of this outbreak, but most ill people interviewed reported eating soft cheese before becoming ill.” Eighteen of 22 case patients interviewed reported eating soft cheeses in the month before becoming ill. Four of them mentioned brands made by Karoun Dairies. No other brand of cheese was reported more than once, according to the CDC.
CDC, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and state health officials are using PulseNet, the national subtyping network, to identify illnesses that may be part of this outbreak. When Listeria cases are diagnosed, a test to identify its DNA fingerprint is performed using pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) and whole genome sequencing (WGS). These fingerprints are then uploaded to PulseNet.
FDA releases two final food safety rules: what you need to know
Source : http://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=8b2c4bf5-de02-4172-af03-9fd80ff9c69b
By lexology.com (Sep 17, 2015)
Progress on Final Rules implementing the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) took a significant step forward last week when FDA released its first two, comprising the final rules on Current Good Manufacturing Practice and Hazard Analysis and Risk-Based Preventive Controls for Human Food and Food for Animals.
The final rule on Preventive Controls for Human Food creates and revises requirements for covered food facilities in three ways. The final rule:
1.Modernizes FDA’s current good manufacturing practice (cGMP) regulations, which govern the manufacturing, processing, packing, or holding of human food;
2.Requires covered facilities to establish and implement hazard analysis and risk-based preventive controls for human food; and
3.Clarifies the scope of the exemption for farms in FDA’s current food facility registration regulations and makes corresponding revisions to FDA’s current regulations for the establishment, maintenance, and availability of records.
The final rule on Preventive Controls for Animal Food establishes new requirements for the production of animal food by registered food facilities. Specifically, the final rule:
1.Creates new cGMP regulations that, for the first time, specifically address the manufacturing, processing, packing, and holding of food for animals; and
2.Requires covered facilities to establish and implement hazard analysis and risk-based preventive controls for food for animals.
These rules come in the midst of a long fight on Capitol Hill over funding for FDA and FSMA implementation and enforcement. To date, Congress has been unable to reach an agreement that would provide President Obama’s requested FDA budget increase of $109 million for FSMA implementation in FY2016. This budget uncertainty hampers FSMA implementation. In the Senate Agriculture’s September 16 hearing on FDA food safety efforts, Michael Taylor, FDA’s deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine, stated: “There is no good outcome if we get the partial funding because something significant will have to give, whether it’s in whole program areas, simply delaying or disrupting, or just doing everything inadequately…There will be hard choices.” FDA is also stuck in FSMA-related disputes with farmers, who have concerns about duplicative requirements with Department of Agriculture oversight, as well as with food safety groups that want the agency to require testing of more processed foods and produce under the law.
To continue its outreach and engagement with the regulated community on FSMA, FDA is hosting a series of three webinars on the two Preventive Controls final rules. The first webinar on September 15 focused on who is covered by the rules and the final definition of “farm.” The other two webinars, on September 16 & 17, will discuss the significant provisions of the Preventive Controls for Human Food and the Preventive Controls for Animal Food final rules, respectively. A public meeting about both Preventive Controls final rules will be held in Chicago on October 20, 2015.
These final rules and notices of the availability of the qualitative risk assessments will be published in the Federal Register on September 17, 2015 – an important date to keep in mind in order to accurately calculate compliance dates for your business as you work towards the new post-FSMA world.
A Listeriosis Outbreak, A Cheese Recall, Little Info
Source : https://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2015/a-listeriosis-outbreak-a-cheese-recall-little-info/
By Linda Larsen (Sep 17, 2015)
Under a recall of cheeses produced by Karoun Dairies, the FDA has “kind of” announced a Listeria monocytogenes outbreak. There is no information from the CDC, no case numbers, and no illness dates. The only word about the outbreak is “To date, no product has tested positive for Listeria but in view of the association with listeriosis cases Karoun Dairies Inc. is initiating a voluntary recall in the interest of protecting public health.” No photos have been released of any products or product labels.
Cheese platter This type of action is very frustrating for consumers. We know the brand names of the cheeses (Karoun, Arz, Gopi, Queso Del Valle, Central Valley Creamery, Gopi, and Yanni). We know the item name and the UPC codes and the use-by dates. We know that the cheeses were sold across the country.
But we don’t know the stores where the cheeses were sold, except for Publix and Sam’s Club, but that’s it. We don’t know who was sickened, or when they were sickened, or where they shopped or ate. We don’t know how long this outbreak has been going on. We don’t even know if this outbreak is linked to the cheese itself.
This lack of information can be dangerous to some people, for many reasons. First of all, symptoms of listeriosis can take up to 70 days to appear. It can be difficult, if not impossible, to pinpoint which food was contaminated and made you sick after that amount of time has passed. The symptoms of Listeria monocytogenes food poisoning can mimic the flu, as well, so may be dismissed as that illness.
But the complications and consequences of this illness can be serious. The illness can progress into Listeria meningitis, which can be fatal or lead to permanent disability. Complications of meningitis include brain stem damage, seizures, loss of consciousness, compression of the cervical cord in the spine, brain abscess, and hydrocephalus.
Pregnant women can suffer miscarriages and stillbirth if they contract listeriosis. A woman’s child can be born with a Listeria infection, which can be fatal.
This risk is so serious and insidious that many physicians will give their pregnant patients prophylactic (preventative) doses of antibiotics if they simply ate a food recalled for Listeria monocytogenes contamination. This happened in the Bidart Brothers caramel apple Listeria outbreak and recall last year. And in pregnant women, this illness can be very mild, so it may be unnoticed or dismissed until disaster strikes.
The elderly, those with chronic illnesses and compromised immune systems, and children are at high risk for listeriosis and its attendant complications. For that reason, health experts recommend that people in those groups avoid products that may be contaminated with Listeria bacteria, including soft cheeses, deli meats, smoked salmon, raw sushi, and raw milk.
The symptoms of a Listeria monocytogenes food poisoning illness include flu-like fever and muscle aches, upset stomach, diarrhea, stiff neck, headache, loss of balance, and confusion. While the average length of time between exposure to the bacteria and symptom development is about three weeks, it can be up to 70 days.
Look at the long list of recalled products, along with UPC numbers and best-by dates, carefully. If you purchased and ate, or handled, any of the recalled cheeses, monitor yourself for these symptoms. If any symptoms do appear, see your doctor as soon as possible and tell him you ate this product that was recalled for Listeria monocytogenes contamination.
If you purchased this product, you also need to clean out your refrigerator with a mild bleach solution. Listeria bacteria can grow at refrigerator temperatures. Only bleach will kill Listeria. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water after you handle the cheese and after you clean the fridge.
Report Ranks Antibiotics Policies at Fast Food Chains
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2015/09/report-ranks-antibiotics-policies-at-fast-food-chains/#.Vf-kLREViUl
By News Desk (Sep 16, 2015)
Only Chipotle and Panera get an A grade on antibiotics policies and sourcing practices, and most other fast food chains fail, according to a report by the Friends of the Earth, Natural Resources Defense Council, Keep Antibiotics Working, Consumers Union, Center for Food Safety, and Food Animal Concerns Trust. Chick-fil-a gets a B, while Dunkin’ Donuts and McDonald’s get Cs.
The companies were rated on the quality of their policy, whether their policy applies to all types of meat, the availability of the meat produced without routine antibiotics, whether their programs are audited by a third party, whether the policy is available to the public, and whether the company responded to the report survey.
Subway, Wendy’s, Burger King, Denny’s, Domino’s Pizza and Starbucks managed to get at least one point in the report ranking. The other 14 chains on the list failed to get any points at all.
Some notes from the report include:
•Panera Bread and Chipotle Mexican Grill report that they currently offer an array of meat options produced without the routine use of antibiotics, including pork and beef.
•Chick-fil-A, the largest U.S. chicken chain by domestic sales volume, has committed to serve 100-percent no-antibiotics chicken by 2019 and indicates that, as of March 2015, 20 percent of its chicken meets this standard.
•Although Dunkin’ Donuts adopted good policies that apply to all meat served, it has not made public a timetable for when suppliers must meet company requirements, and it is unclear how much, if any, meat served in its restaurants meets policy specifications.
•McDonald’s received fewer points because routine use of antibiotics is still allowed for “disease prevention” in the production of its pork and beef, and the company is not publicly reporting on the current percentage of poultry served that is raised without routine antibiotics.
•Subway made news last month with its announcement of a new antibiotics use policy, but it’s unclear whether the policy entails the end of all routine antibiotic use in its supply chains.
To restaurants, the authors of the report say to take cues from Chipotle and Panera. To consumers, they say, “Your choice and your voice matter,” and suggest finding local restaurants that buy more sustainably produced meat.
“I want to thank these great organizations for the work they have done to highlight fast food company policies and honor those which made the grade,” Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY) said in response to the report. “The companies that have failed to change their practices should examine this report and immediately make the change that the American public is demanding. Lives literally depend on it.”
FDA IDs Mexican Farm in Salmonella Cucumber Outbreak, Issues Ban
Source : https://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2015/fda-ids-mexican-farm-in-salmonella-cucumber-outbreak-issues-ban/
By Carla Gillespie (Sep 17, 2015)
The U.S. Food and Administration (FDA) has identified the Mexican farm that produced the cucumbers linked to the deadly Salmonella outbreak and banned them. The FDA and the CDC continue to investigate the 31-state outbreak that has killed two people and sickened 416 others .
Rancho Don Juanito de R.L. de C.V. located in Baja, Mexico has been identified as the source of the cucumbers. The import alert gives health officials the authority to prevent cucumbers from that farm from entering the country.
The U.S. distributor of the cucumbers, Andrew & Williamson Fresh Produce of San Diego, issued a recall for these dark green cucumbers, called “slicer” or “American” cucumbers, on September 4. A second recall was issued September 11 by Custom Produce Sales of Parlier, California, which received cucumbers from Andrew & Williamson and sold them under the brand name Fat Boy.
Health officials have still not released a complete list of stores that sold them or restaurants that served them.Walmart, Savemart, Food 4 Less, Winco and Ralphs all carried the cucumbers before the recall. Red Lobster also served the cucumbers in salads.
These dark green cucumbers, which are about 7 to 10 inches long and about 1.75 to 2.5 inches in diameter, were sold in grocery stores in bulk bins with no individual packaging, labeling, or wrapping. Restaurants also served them.
In Minnesota, at least 1o illnesses have been linked to Red Lobster. The national food safety law firm PritzkerOlsen, which underwrites Food Poisoning Bulletin, filed a lawsuit on behalf of a child who became ill after eating a salad containing contaminated at Red Lobster.
That child and 417 other people suffered symptoms of a Salmonella infection including nausea, abdominal cramps, diarrhea that may be bloody, a fever, headache, muscle pains, and vomiting. They reported onset of symptoms from July 3 to September 3. Health officials say illnesses that occurred after August 22, may not be recorded yet due to the lag time between onset of illness and diagnosis of infection.
Three strains of Salmonella Poona associated with this outbreak. Four state health departments -Arizona, California, Montana, and Nevada, have isolated Salmonella from Andrew & Williamson cucumbers collected from various locations. The Nevada, Arizona and Montana health departments have all isolated outbreak strains from cucumbers collected from retail locations. And the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency isolated one of the outbreak strains from cucumbers collected from the Andrew & Williamson Fresh Produce facility.
The CDC tested the outbreak strains to see if they respond to or resist antibiotics. All three strains respond to antibiotics, the agency said.
So far, at least 91 people have been hospitalized and two have died. Fifty-three percent of those sickened, who range in age from less than 1 year to 99 years old, are female. The median age is 17. Most of the illnesses, 52 percent, are children younger than 18.
By state the case count is as follows: Alaska (10), Arizona (72), Arkansas (6), California (89), Colorado (16), Hawaii (1), Idaho (14), Illinois (6), Indiana (2), Kansas (1), Kentucky (1), Louisiana (4), Minnesota (20), Missouri (8), Montana (13), Nebraska (2), Nevada (9), New Mexico (22), New York (4), North Dakota (2), Ohio (2), Oklahoma (10), Oregon (8), Pennsylvania (2), South Carolina (8), Texas (20), Utah (37), Virginia (1), Washington (15), Wisconsin (9), and Wyoming (4).
PCA Prosecutors Say Outbreak Victims are Crime Victims Under the Law
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2015/09/pca-prosecutors-say-outbreak-victims-are-crime-victims-under-the-law/#.Vf-k0xEViUl
By Dan Flynn (Sep 15, 2015)
The victims of a foodborne outbreak are crime victims and their written statements and oral testimony should be heard at next week’s sentencing of Stewart and Michael Parnell and Mary Wilkerson, according to U.S. Department of Justice lawyer Mary M. Engelhart from the Consumer Protection Branch.
She is one of three government prosecutors in the Peanut Corporation of America (PCA) criminal trial who have now responded to a move by defense attorneys to exclude victims of the 2009 Salmonella Typhimurium outbreak from the sentencing proceedings based on arguments that outbreak victims are not really crime victims.
“The Defendants’ claim that individuals who were sickened or family members of individuals who died—as a result of the Defendants’ criminal actions—are not victims and should not be afforded the right under the Crime Victims’ Rights Act (CVRA) is unfathomable to the government,” Engelhart wrote in DOJ’S response brief.
The government states that outbreak victims meet a two-part test established by the Atlanta-based Eleventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals for determining who is a “crime victim” under the CVRA.
“The Eleventh Circuit has further stated that an individual ‘may qualify as a victim, even though (he) may not be the target of the crime, as long as (he) suffers harm as a result of the crime’s commission,’” she continued.
Engelhart also called “meritless” the defendants’ claim that only PCA’s business customers were victims, not the end consumers who purchased and consumed products made with contaminated PCA peanut butter and peanut paste.
Defense attorneys argued that PCA for the most part did not ship directly to consumers, or obtain payments from them.
“These claims,” Engelhart wrote, “are illogical and served only to obfuscate the story. The offense conduct here is much more straightforward than the Defendants make it out to be. It involved the shipment of salmonella-tainted peanuts, peanut paste, and peanut butter to food distributors and manufacturers, oftentimes accompanied by falsified documents.
“The food distributors and manufacturers then added PCA’s peanut products to other ingredients to make a final product—they added chopped peanuts to their ice cream, they spread peanut paste on their crackers, and they sprinkled peanuts on top of their caramel apples. And then the food distributors and manufacturers sold the final products to consumers,” she continued. “Thousands of consumers who ate the products became ill, and nine people died. Defendants’ attempts to complicate the story cannot change these facts. That Defendants sold their products to middlemen distributors and manufacturers does not somehow relieve them of responsibility for the safety of those products.”
Statements and testimony of outbreak victims being heard at sentencing under the CVRA is not unprecedented. Judge Mark Bennett heard such testimony in U.S. District Court for Northern Iowa in Sioux City before pronouncing sentence on egg producers Austin (Jack) and Peter DeCoster and Quality Egg LLC following convictions related to a nationwide Salmonella outbreak in 2010.
Defense attorneys for the Parnells challenged the practice largely out of concern about how multiple victims bump up the sentencing levels under federal guidelines. As it stands now, a 250-plus victim enhancement bumps Stewart Parnell up six levels in the federal sentencing guideline. A 50-plus victim enhancement takes him up four levels.
“The Defendants have questioned the reliability of these statements and have alleged due process violations,” Engelhart continued in the response brief. “The Defendants have no Constitutional right to cross examine the victims. Victims who speak at sentencing are not government witnesses, but independent parties with the right to speak at sentencing. Victims exercising their rights under the CVRA do so as independent parties to the litigation, standing apart from the prosecution. This is evident from the plain text of the statute and from case law.”
Engelhart asks that the defense motion to exclude the outbreak victims as crime victims be denied. Sentencing in the PCA case is scheduled for Monday, Sept. 21, at the federal courthouse in Albany, GA.
Coffee chains found violating food safety laws
Source : http://koreajoongangdaily.joins.com/news/article/article.aspx?aid=3009234&cloc=etc%7Cjad%7Cgooglenews
BY PARK EUN-JEE (Sep 16, 2015)
Cafes are everywhere these days, with Koreans consuming coffee more frequently than staples like rice or kimchi last year.
But they might reconsider their habit after learning that a number of coffee franchises have been found to be in violation of food safety laws.
There have been 307 violations between June 2011 and June 2015, according to a report released by the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety as part of a national audit conducted by Rep. In Jae-keun of the opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy, who sits on the Health and Welfare Committee.
Caffe Bene was the most frequent offender of the 10 major coffee purveyors polled, with 62 violations. Other chains included Angel-in-us, Ediya Coffee, Tom N Toms, Hollys Coffee, A Twosome Place, Pascucci and Coffine Gurunaru, as well as multinationals Starbucks and Coffee Bean Korea.
Tom N Toms had the second-most violations, followed by Angel-in-us and Hollys Coffee.
Coffine Gurunaru had the fewest infractions, while Starbucks and Coffee Bean each had a modest 11.
By type of violation, failure to properly conduct food-safety training was the most frequent at 81, followed by operating outside of designated premises.
More troubling, there were 27 cases of products being sold past their expiration date.
Rep. In called on the government to thoroughly monitor the coffee shops on top of the list.
“Coffee has become the favorite food item for many Koreans,” the lawmaker said. “The government should carefully investigate those coffee shops”
People drank an average of 12.2 cups of coffee per week in 2014, according to a survey by the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs and the Korea Agro-Fisheries and Food Trade Corporation.
Chinese sign agreement with Ireland on food safety
Source : http://www.independent.ie/business/farming/chinese-sign-agreement-with-ireland-on-food-safety-31525860.html
By Louise Hogan (Sep 16, 2015)
Ireland has signed a memorandum of understanding on food safety with China after a senior minister paid a three day visit to dairy farms and processing factories.
Speaking at the China-Ireland Food Safety Forum on the dairy and infant formula sectors last week, Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney said Ireland's agri-food exports to China have grown over 270pc to €620m in just five years. Mr Coveney added that dairy exports from Ireland to China rose 25pc last year.
During the meeting in the Department's complex in Backweston, Co Kildare, China's minister with responsibility for Food and Drug Administration, Bi Jingquan, signed the memorandum which involves an exchange of information on food safety standards.
Mr Coveney said Ireland had a strong reputation for food safety standards.
The Chinese delegation visited a Wicklow dairy farm and will also visit the Danone plant in Co Wexford and Kerry Group in Naas. Awareness of food safety has grown in China since it was hit by the melamine-tainted milk scandal.
Minimize risk: Tracking shellfish contamination
Source : http://barfblog.com/2015/09/minimize-risk-tracking-shellfish-contamination/
By Doug Powell (Sep 15, 2015)
Some shellfish, especially raw oysters, may contain dangerous levels of the pathogen Vibrio parahaemolyticus (Vp), a cousin of the bug that causes cholera.
When ingested, Vp can cause the food poisoning called vibriosis, which usually entails an unpleasant three days of nausea, diarrhea, fever and chills. In rare cases and among vulnerable populations—the very young, very old or those with weakened immune systems—the bacterium can cause a more serious blood infection. Vp, which can also cause skin infections, leads to about 30 hospitalizations and kills one to two people each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In Massachusetts, 58 cases of Vp-related illnesses were reported to the Department of Public Health in 2013, up from 13 cases in 2011. The state banned oyster harvesting in waters off Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket as well as off the towns of Plymouth, Kingston, Duxbury and Marshfield that year. The last two years waters in New York, Oregon and Washington State have been closed to oystering.
Vp occurs naturally in most marine ecosystems, but it typically has only been linked to disease in warm coastal areas, such as the Gulf of Mexico. The recent emergence of Vp-associated illness linked to seafood from waters off Alaska, Long Island and Massachusetts has made public health officials and others sit up and take notice, says Meghan Hartwick, who received a master’s degree in conservation medicine from Cummings School in 2012 and now works to predict and control future outbreaks.
Why has Vp-related illness spread to more northern latitudes? Some scientists speculate it might have to do with climate change and rising ocean temperatures. “When we see these kinds of outbreaks in historically cold-water areas, it’s really unusual,” says Hartwick, who is studying the Vibrio species as a Ph.D. student in biology at the University of New Hampshire.
Hartwick hopes to develop a predictive mathematical model that can warn public health officials and shellfish growers when Vp outbreaks might occur. She helped implement such an environmental surveillance tool for cholera in Vellore, India, as part of her conservation medicine program at Tufts.
Nationwide, Vibrio parahaemolyticus cases are also on the rise. The Centers for Disease Control reports a 115 percent increase since 1996, when the agency started tracking Vp-associated illnesses. Of the 431 cases the CDC confirmed in 2012, six were fatal. Officials also suspect that Vp is vastly underreported, by as much as tenfold.
Hartwick is studying the Vibrio population in the Great Bay tidal estuary on the New Hampshire coast that empties into the Gulf of Maine. Collaborating with UNH colleagues with expertise in microbial ecology, genetics, molecular evolution and remote sensing, Hartwick is trying to understand the role the bacteria plays within Great Bay’s ecosystem.
The “sole goal [of Vp] in life is not to be a human pathogen,” she says. “Vp is an intrinsic part of the flora and fauna of most marine and estuarine ecosystems.”
In the spring and summer, Hartwick collects water and sediment samples and gathers data about water temperature, salinity, pH levels and anything else that might affect the bacteria’s numbers. Over time, she hopes to map how much and which species of Vibrio bacteria are present in Great Bay during the summer, as well as what factors might promote an outbreak.
In addition to developing a Vibrio early-warning tool, Hartwick and the UNH team, including her advisor, bacteriologist Stephen Jones, are working with shellfish growers to figure out how to prevent future outbreaks. After all, no one wants to sell food that makes people sick, she says.
“We’re not blindly throwing a dart and hoping it solves the problem,” Hartwick says. “We’re asking, ‘What is the problem, and what’s the best way to address it,’ so there are no unnecessary burdens placed on the shellfish industry, and there’s also no unnecessary illness. It’s sustainable science contributing to sustainable policy.”
Now into a second summer of collecting samples in Great Bay, Hartwick says she eventually would like to do work in sustainable development on a global scale. Disrupting ecosystems is one of the surest ways to trigger epidemics, such as cholera, she says, and disease is one of the heaviest economic burdens developing nations have to bear.
“If a developing nation can navigate that, it can jump ahead economically,” she says. “It’s hard for me not to think, ‘How can we conserve the environment and improve human health and the economy and education—everything at once?’ My approach is to minimize disease.”
The 5 Most Dangerous Foodborne Pathogens
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2015/09/the-5-most-dangerous-foodborne-pathogens/#.Vf-mIhEViUl
By Lydia Zuraw (Sep 14, 2015)
It can be tricky business to say that one foodborne pathogen is more dangerous than another. Are the criteria the number of illnesses, number of deaths, or percentage of victims who die? Do the severity of an illness or chronic side effects factor into the ranking?
The first three pathogens on this list are fairly obvious dangers and ones on which federal agencies, such the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, focus most of their attention. The other two are much rarer, but they’re still important pathogens to watch out for.
Apart from some diarrhea or minor gastrointestinal problems, most people don’t get sick when they’re exposed to Listeria. It’s estimated that it sickens only about 1,600 people in the U.S. each year, but, if the pathogen gets into their bloodstream, one in five people die, giving it the highest mortality rate of foodborne pathogens.
At least 90 percent of people who get Listeria infections are pregnant women and their newborns, people 65 or older, or people with weakened immune systems.
Listeria can contaminate foods we don’t usually cook, such deli meats, sprouts, and soft cheeses. In 1985, Listeria-contaminated queso fresco sickened 142 people, killed 10 newborns and 18 adults, and caused 20 miscarriages. In 2011, 147 people were infected with Listeria from cantaloupes and 33 people died. Within the past year, there have been outbreaks linked to new food vehicles — caramel apples and ice cream.
Approximately 1 million people are sickened by Salmonella in the U.S. each year and approximately 380 of them die from the infection.
Children are at the highest risk for Salmonella infection. Children younger than 5 have higher rates of Salmonella infection than any other age group. Young children, older adults, and people with weakened immune systems are the most likely to have severe infections.
Salmonella illnesses are commonly associated with poultry and eggs, along with meat, unpasteurized milk or juice, cheese, contaminated raw fruits and vegetables, spices, and nuts. In 2009, 714 people were infected with Salmonella Typhimurium linked to peanut butter. Approximately 1,939 Salmonella Enteritidis illnesses associated with shell eggs were reported in 2010, and 634 people were sickened by Salmonella Heidelberg linked to Foster Farms chicken in 2013 and 2014.
Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC)
Most Escherichia coli are harmless and an important part of a healthy human intestinal tract, but some are pathogenic. There are six pathotypes of E. coli that are associated with diarrhea and the one we hear about most often is Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) – also referred to as Verocytotoxin-producing E. coli (VTEC) or enterohemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC). The most commonly identified STEC in North America is E. coli O157:H7 (often shortened to E. coli O157).
STEC is estimated to cause 265,000 illnesses and 30 deaths each year. It infects people of any age, but young children and the elderly are more likely to develop severe illness and hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a severe complication in which red blood cells are damaged and can cause kidney damage and kidney failure.
Undercooked ground beef, raw milk and juice, soft cheeses made from raw milk, and raw fruits and vegetables have been commonly linked to E. coli infections.
In 1992-1993, an E. coli O157 outbreak that sickened more than 700 people was linked to Jack in the Box hamburgers. In 2006, 199 people were sickened by contaminated spinach. And in 2009, raw refrigerated, prepackaged cookie dough sickened 72 people.
The number of Vibrio illnesses and subsequent deaths may much lower than those for Salmonella, Listeria or E. coli, but it is still be a troubling pathogen.
An average of 50 culture-confirmed cases, 45 hospitalizations, and 16 deaths are reported each year from the Gulf Coast region (Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas). As of Sept. 11, Florida has reported 30 confirmed Vibrio vulnificus infections this year, including 11 deaths.
While not potentially life-threatening to most healthy people, Vibrio vulnificus can be very dangerous to immunocompromised people, especially those with chronic liver disease, cancer or diabetes. In these people, the bacterium can infect the bloodstream, causing a severe and life-threatening illness that is fatal about half the time.
Vibrio vulnificus lives in warm seawater, such as the Gulf of Mexico, and is found in higher concentrations in the summer months as water temperatures rise. It can cause disease in those who eat contaminated shellfish raw or undercooked — particularly raw oysters. Contrary to what some people believe, eating raw oysters with hot sauce or while drinking alcohol does not kill the bacteria.
Since 2006-2008, the Foodborne Diseases Active Surveillance Network (FoodNet) has detected a 52-percent increase in Vibrio infections, including V. parahaemolyticus, V. alginolyticus and V. vulnificus.
The increases may be the result of higher water temperatures lasting more months of the year and reaching further north due to climate change.
Botulism is another rare but serious foodborne illness. It’s a paralytic illness caused by a nerve toxin that is produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum.
In the U.S., an average of 145 cases are reported each year. Of these, approximately 15 percent are foodborne, 65 percent are infant botulism and 20 percent are wound-related.
Botulism can result in death due to respiratory failure. However, in the past 50 years, the proportion of patients with botulism who die has fallen from about 50 percent to 3-5 percent.
A patient with severe botulism may require a breathing machine, as well as intensive medical and nursing care, for several months, and some patients die from infections or other problems related to remaining paralyzed for weeks or months. Patients who survive an episode of botulism poisoning may have fatigue and shortness of breath for years, and long-term therapy may be needed to aid recovery.
Foodborne botulism has often been linked to home-canned foods with low acid content, such as asparagus, green beans, beets and corn, and is caused by failure to follow proper canning methods. Outbreaks of foodborne botulism involving two or more people occur most years and are usually caused by home-canned foods.
Minnesota Chipotle Salmonella Lawsuit Filed
Source : http://www.foodpoisonjournal.com/foodborne-illness-outbreaks/minnesota-chipotle-salmonella-lawsuit-filed/#.Vf-m0REViUl
By Bill Marler (Sep 14, 2015)
A Minneapolis woman hospitalized twice after eating at a Chipotle location in Minneapolis has filed the first Salmonella lawsuit after the Minnesota Department of Health linked a salmonella outbreak to the burrito chain.
April Beck ate at the Uptown Chipotle, at 2600 Hennepin Avenue S., on Aug. 10, 2015. According to the lawsuit, she developed stomach cramping and diarrhea 5 days later. Beck was admitted to the hospital on Aug. 23 after her symptoms worsened to the point that she struggled to stand. Beck was released from the hospital on Sept. 1, but was readmitted the following day because blood clots had formed in both arms.
Beck’s illness is one of 45 cases of salmonella reported in Minnesota since Sept. 2. Since many did not seek health care and get tested, officials believe there are likely more illnesses. Of the 34 people who have been interviewed by MDH, 32 ate or likely ate at 17 different Chipotle restaurant locations in Minnesota. Most of the locations are in the Twin Cities metro area, with one in St. Cloud and one in Rochester.
Officials are working on identifying a specific food item source of the outbreak. In the meantime, Chipotle has changed the source of the suspect produce item under investigation.
Symptoms of salmonellosis include diarrhea, abdominal pain and fever. Symptoms usually begin within 12 to 72 hours after exposure, but they can begin up to a week after exposure. Salmonella infections usually resolve in 5 to 7 days, but approximately 28 percent of laboratory-confirmed cases require hospitalization. Invasive infections (for example, blood stream infections, meningitis) occasionally occur. In rare cases, Salmonella infection can lead to death, particularly in the elderly or those with weakened immune systems. Many Salmonella infections in otherwise healthy people do not require medical treatment. For those that do seek health care, most do not need to be treated with antibiotics. However, antibiotic treatment for certain categories of people and for more severe infections is warranted. Please consult your health care provider for more information with specific questions about treatment of salmonellosis.
Seems a bit(e) familiar:
August 15 2015 Outbreak of Norovirus, Chipotle restaurant, Simi Valley, California
In August 2015 Ventura County Environmental Health and Ventura County Public Health Division staff investigated an outbreak of norovirus among patrons of a Chipotle restaurant located in the Simi Valley Towne Center. During the week of August 18, 2015 …Read More »
September 09 Church Brothers LLC/ Cafe Rio Restaurant/ Chipotle Restaurant Romaine Lettuce 2009
In September 2009, a cluster of patients who had been infected with an indistinguishable strain of E. coli O157:H7 was identified. Initially case-patients were identified in Colorado, Utah, and New York State. Additional case-patients were identified …Read More »
February 09 Apple Valley Chipotle Mexican Grill Lettuce 2009
An outbreak of Campylobacter jejuni occurred among patrons who ate a variety of chicken and non-chicken dishes at the Apple Valley, Minnesota, Chipotle Mexican Grill. Exposures involved meals that had been served between February 9 and 14. An environmental …Read More »
April 08 Chipotle Grill Restaurant Unknown 2008
Persons who dined at the restaurant, located in La Mesa, California, between March 1 and April 22, 2008, developed hepatitis A. Restaurant employees were tested for hepatitis A subsequent to the outbreak and had no evidence of recent hepatitis A infection …Read More »
April 08 Chipotle Grill Restaurant Burritos 2008
Patrons of a Chipotle Grill Restaurant near Kent State University in Kent, Ohio, developed diarrhea, nausea and vomiting due to Norovirus. Many of those affected were Kent State University students who had eaten burritos at the restaurant. Restaurant …Read More »
Salmonella: Marler Clark, The Food Safety Law Firm, is the nation’s leading law firm representing victims of Salmonella outbreaks. The Salmonella lawyers of Marler Clark have represented thousands of victims of Salmonella 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 Salmonella lawyers have litigated Salmonella cases stemming from outbreaks traced to a variety of foods, such as cantaloupe, tomatoes, ground turkey, salami, sprouts, cereal, peanut butter, and food served in restaurants. The law firm has brought Salmonella lawsuits against such companies as Cargill, ConAgra, Peanut Corporation of America, Sheetz, Taco Bell, Subway and Wal-Mart.
If you or a family member became ill with a Salmonella infection, including Reactive Arthritis or Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), after consuming food and you’re interested in pursuing a legal claim, contact the Marler Clark Salmonella attorneys for a free case evaluation.
The FDA takes important steps in modernizing the food safety system
Source : http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm461437.htm
By fda.gov (Sep 10, 2015)
Moves to implement FDA Food Safety Modernization Act to further protect consumers from foodborne illness
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) today took one of the most significant steps in decades to prevent foodborne illness by finalizing the first two of seven major rules under the bipartisan FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).
Today’s action is the first step in putting greater emphasis on the prevention of foodborne illness, holding imported food to the same food safety standard as domestically produced food, and developing a nationally integrated food safety system in partnership with state and local authorities.
An estimated 48 million people (1 in 6 Americans) get sick each year from foodborne diseases, according to recent data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Approximately 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die each year. Over the past few years, high-profile outbreaks related to various foods, from spinach to peanut products, have underscored the need to make continuous improvements in food safety.
“Today’s announcement sets us on the path to a modern food safety system that will prevent illnesses and continue to build confidence in the safety of the food served to our families every day,” said Dr. Stephen Ostroff, acting FDA commissioner.
The two rules finalized today, the preventive controls rules, focus on implementing modern food manufacturing processes for both human and animal foods. Today’s announcement will ensure that food companies are taking action and working with the FDA to prevent hazards to customers on the front end, rather than waiting to act until an outbreak has occurred.
The preventive controls rules require human and animal food facilities to develop and implement written food safety plans that indicate the possible problems that could affect the safety of their products and outline steps the facility would take to prevent or significantly minimize the likelihood of those problems occurring. This means that food companies will be accountable for monitoring their facilities and identifying any potential hazards in their products and prevent those hazards. Under these rules, the FDA will be able to assess these systems and their outcomes to prevent problems, will better be able to respond when food safety problems occur, and better protect the safety of manufactured food.
The preventive controls final rules announced today are the result of an extensive outreach effort, and incorporate thousands of public comments, including valuable input from farmers, consumers, the food industry and academic experts, to create a flexible and targeted approach to ensuring food safety.
“We’ve been working with states, food companies, farmers and consumers to create smart, practical and meaningful rules,” said Michael R. Taylor, deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine, FDA. “And we have made a firm commitment to provide guidance, technical assistance and training to advance a food safety culture that puts prevention first.”
Once the seven FSMA rules are finalized in 2016, they will work together to systematically strengthen the food safety system and better protect public health.
The FDA, an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, protects the public health by assuring the safety and effectiveness of human and veterinary drugs, vaccines and other biological products for human use, and medical devices. The agency also is responsible for the safety of our nation’s food supply, cosmetics, dietary supplements, and products that give off electronic radiation, and for regulating tobacco products.
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