Salmonella Outbreak at Fig & Olive Restaurants Remains a Mystery
Source : https://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2015/salmonella-outbreak-at-fig-olive-restaurants-remains-a-mystery/
By Linda Larsen (Oct 04, 2015)
The Salmonella Enteritidis outbreaks at Fig & Olive restaurants in Washington D.C. and Los Angeles, California remain a mystery. At least 174 people have been sickened after eating at those restaurants, and more cases are being investigated. We don’t know what caused the outbreak, if the outbreaks at both restaurants are caused by the same serotype or genetic strain of Salmonella, or if other restaurants that are part of the Fig & Olive chain are involved.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has taken over the investigation, even though they have not released a report on the outbreak. The Washington D.C. Department of Health has taken environmental and food samples from the Fig & Olive restaurant in that city, and the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health is assisting in the investigation of the outbreak in California. No new updates have been issued by the Washington DOH since mid-September, and Los Angeles has not released a report.
Forty-five food samples and fifteen environmental samples were taken from the Washington D.C. location. All have tested negative for the pathogenic bacteria. Ten food samples are still pending for that location as of late September.
Those sickened in California ate at the restaurant on Melrose Place between September 6 and 11, 2015. Those sickened in the Washington, D.C. restaurant ate there over the Labor Day weekend in early September. The outbreak on the East Coast includes patients who live in Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Illinois, and Alabama.
The Fig & Olive chain also has restaurants in New York City, Scarsdale, New York, Newport Beach, California, and in Chicago, Illinois. Some people who ate at the New York City location may be ill according to other news reports, but officials in New York City, Chicago, and Newport Beach told Food Poisoning Bulletin that no Salmonella cases associated with the restaurant have been reported in those locations.
The Fig & Olive restaurant in Washington D.C. was closed for six days for cleaning, disposal of food, and staff education. Two items were removed from the menu: truffle fries and mushroom croquettes. The truffle oil is made by chefs at the restaurants. Officials have not mentioned any other foods, and have not referred to any other possible clues in this outbreak.
At the California location, the restaurant was closed for a few days. Some symptomatic food handlers were asked to submit stool specimens for lab analysis. The latest inspection report for that restaurant, conducted on July 22, 2015, reveals only one minor violation for lack of adequate hand washing facilities.
The symptoms of Salmonella food poisoning include nausea, fever, chills, abdominal cramps, muscle aches, headache, vomiting, and diarrhea that may be bloody. People usually become ill six hours to three days after exposure to the bacteria. The foods most commonly associated with Salmonella outbreaks include chicken, fresh produce such as tomatoes and cucumbers, and bean sprouts.
The long term consequences of a Salmonella infection can be serious. Some people can develop Reiter’s Syndrome, which causes eye irritation and reactive arthritis. Others can develop irritable bowel syndrome, heart disease, or high blood pressure. If you ate at a Fig & Olive restaurant and have experienced these symptoms, see your doctor. It’s important for your health that this illness is noted on your medical chart.
San Quentin Legionnaires’ Outbreak Traced to Cooling Towers
Source : https://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2015/san-quentin-legionnaires-outbreak-traced-to-cooling-towers/
By Linda Larsen (Oct 04, 2015)
A Legionnaires’ Disease outbreak at the San Quentin State Prison in San Quentin, California was caused by contaminated cooling towers. The report was filed by J. Clark Kelso, the federally appointed receiver who is responsible for the California prison’s medical system.
Thirteen inmates were diagnosed with Legionnaires’ Disease, and more than 80 others were diagnosed with pneumonia. Some of the staff were also sickened, and there are twelve cases of staff members’ illness that are currently being investigated.
The report states that “Later water tests of environmental samples revealed that the water in two of the cooling towers at the top of the Central Health Services Building had high concentrations of Legionella pneumophila serogroup 1, which is the most common cause of Legionnaires’ disease.”
Cooling towers are part of the air conditioning and HVAC systems in large buildings. Air and water are brought together in those towers. Some of the water then evaporates, which lowers the temperature of the water. Vapor or mist that may be contaminated with bacteria is then released. When people breathe the mist over a period of time, they can get sick.
The report also stated that a heat wave in the San Francisco area when the outbreak occurred played a part in the bacteria’s growth. In addition, there was “an excessive build-up of debris (e.g. sludge) in the water pans associated with the cooling towers.”
The symptoms of Legionnaires’ Disease start with fever and chills. A cough that may produce blood or sputum follows. The symptoms are very similar to pneumonia, which is why many who have this illness are not diagnosed. Tests for Legionnaires’ are usually only run after a group of people living or working in the same area present at doctor’s offices or hospitals with the same symptoms.
Legionnaires’ Disease is not spread person-to-person. Those who are most susceptible to this illness include people over the age of 50, current or former smokers, and anyone with chronic lung disease or a suppressed immune system. The illness can be fatal up to 30% of the time. This disease can be treated with antibiotics, but early diagnosis is key to the best outcome.
Three other Legionnaires’ Disease outbreaks across the country this past summer have proven deadly. One person died and 13 others were sickened in an outbreak in the Morris Park neighborhood of the Bronx, New York City in early fall. That outbreak is still ongoing.
An outbreak at the Veterans’ Home in Quincy, Illinois this summer killed twelve people and sickened another 54. Senator Dick Durbin has asked for a congressional investigation into that outbreak. The facility is quite old, which is a risk factor for Legionella bacteria contamination.
And another Legionnaires’ Disease outbreak in the South Bronx in New York City earlier this year killed at least twelve people and sickened another 124 this summer. That outbreak was linked to contaminated cooling towers at the Opera House Hotel.
One Dead in Morris Park, NY Legionnaires’ Disease Outbreak
Source : https://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2015/one-dead-in-morris-park-ny-legionnaires-disease-outbreak/
by Linda Larsen (Oct 03, 2015)
One person has died in the Legionnaires’ Disease outbreak in Morris Park, Bronx, New York City. Thirteen people have been diagnosed with this illness. Eleven people are hospitalized, and one has been discharged from the hospital.
This outbreak was first reported on September 21, 2015. The New York Health Department started investigating, and since Saturday, September 26, 2015, all of the cooling towers in the area had been visited by environmental scientists.
All cases have illness onset dates before 9/21/15, and all of the patients have underlying health conditions. People most susceptible to a Legionnaires’ Disease infection include anyone over the age of 50, current and former smokers, and anyone who has a chronic lung disease or compromised immune system.
So far, 15 cooling towers in the area have tested positive for the bacteria: at 2725 East Tremont – Chase Bank; 1740 Eastchester Road – Calvary Hospital; 2964 East Tremont – Lehman High School; 1500 Waters Place – Bronx State Psychiatric; 1199 Sackett Ave – Einstein College; 1845 Eastchester Road – Einstein College; 1301 Morriss Park Ave – Einstein College; 1250 Morris Park Ave – Einstein College; 1865 Eastchester Road – Einstein College; and 1925-1935 Eastchester Road – Einstein College. All of these locations have been ordered cleaned and disinfected. You can see a chart of the disease cluster by diagnosis date at the Health Department website.
Raw pork liver a risk factor for hepatitis E in France
Source : http://barfblog.com/2015/10/raw-pork-liver-a-risk-factor-for-hepatitis-e-in-france/
By Doug Powell (Oct 03, 2015)
In France, the number of confirmed autochthonous hepatitis E (HE) cases has shown a substantial increase since 2006. In 2010, a descriptive study of acute autochthonous laboratory-confirmed HE cases was implemented in order to generate hypotheses about transmission modes and contamination sources.
Acute autochthonous HE cases confirmed by the National Reference Centre (CNR) were interviewed on exposures in the 2 to 10 weeks before illness onset. Clinical, biological and epidemiological characteristics were documented for 139 autochthonous cases.
Sixty-five per cent of them resided in southern France, 59% reported underlying conditions and 74% were infected by HEV subtype 3f. Consumption of raw pig-liver products during the incubation period was more frequent among cases in southern (47%) than in northern (25%) France. HE is a frequent infection, more prevalent in Southern France, where cases frequently report the consumption of raw pork-liver products. A case control study will determine the fraction of HE cases attributable to the consumption of such products and other risk factors.
Descriptive study of autochthonous cases of hepatitis E cases, France, 2010
Couturier E, De Valk H, Letort MJ, Vaillant V, Nicand E, Tessé S, Roque-Afonso AM
Saint-Maurice : Institut de veille sanitaire
Preparedness Information for Consumers
Source : http://www.fda.gov/EmergencyPreparedness/Counterterrorism/MedicalCountermeasures/MCMIssues/ucm464122.htm
September is National Preparedness Month. While FDA and other agencies work hard every day to help prepare the nation for potential threats, everyone can be involved in disaster readiness. Here are a few things you can do now:
•Floods, huricanes, and power outagesBecome familiar with disasters that might occur where you live; plans for your community, workplace or school; and what HHS is doing.
•Download free disaster apps.
•Make and test a family plan (e.g., communicating during an emergency).
•Make an emergency kit of supplies you’ll need for at least three days, including medical products.
•Participate in activities in your community and America’s PrepareAthon and National Day of Action on September 30.
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5 food safety tips if the power goes out during Hurricane Joaquin
Source : http://www.nj.com/politics/index.ssf/2015/10/5_food_safety_tips_if_the_power_goes_out_during_hu.html
By Jonathan D. Salant (Oct 01, 2015)
WASHINGTON — What happens to the food in your freezer if the power goes out during Hurricane Joaquin?
The U.S. Agriculture Department's Food Safety and Inspection Service on Thursday issued the following food safety tips in advance of the hurricane:
1. A refrigerator will keep food cold for up to four hours and a full freezer 48 hours if the doors are kept closed. During an extended power outrage, dry ice can keep food in a refrigerator or freezer longer. Or freeze water in storage bags or containers in advance of the storm and use them to keep food cold.
2. When power returns, discard perishable foods such as meat, seafood or eggs, if the temperature in a refrigerator or freezer rose above 40 degrees for at least two hours. Also discard opened jars of sauces and dressings, milk, eggs, mayonnaise-based salads, most cheeses, cut fruit, cream-filled pies and pastries, and fresh pasta.
3. Frozen food with ice crystals can be refrozen.
4. Never taste food to determine if it's OK to eat. If something feel warm or has an unusual odor, color or texture, throw it out.
5. Do not eat any food that directly comes into contact with flood waters or any food in containers that are not waterproof and comes into contact with flood waters.
Vibrio Outbreak Closes Massachusetts Oyster Beds
Source : https://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2015/vibrio-outbreak-closes-massachusetts-oyster-beds/
By Carla Gillespie (Oct 01, 2015)
A Massachusetts Vibrio outbreak has prompted the temporary closure of oyster beds in Duxbury Bay, Kingston Bay, Bluefish River, Back River, and Plymouth Harbor. Those beds will be closed until October 8 unless more illnesses are reported.
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) and the Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game’s Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF) announced the closures after six illnesses were reported. That number of illnesses triggers the federally mandated 14-day closure, state health officials said.
During the closure, harvesting or possessing oysters from harvest areas CCB-42, CCB-43, CCB-45, CCB-46, and CCB-47 is prohibited. Commercial oyster beds are scheduled to reopen at sunrise on October 8, 2015 if no other illnesses reported. If illnesses are reported, the closure will be extended.
Vibrio parahaemolyticus bacteria naturally occurs in coastal waters during warmer months. Shellfish that is contaminated with Vibrio doesn’t smell or taste off but it does cause illness.
Symptoms of aVibrio parahaemolyticus infection include watery or bloody diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and abdominal cramps lasting about three days. Young children, seniors, those with weakened immune systems, and pregnant women are at highest risk for illness.
Current water temperatures in Duxbury Bay are warm enough to pose a Vibrio threat, state health officials said. Vibrio season in Massachusetts runs from May to October.
No testing, but an A+ on audits: Lenient sentences for ex-peanut officials in Salmonella outbreak
Source : http://barfblog.com/2015/10/no-testing-but-an-a-on-audits-lenient-sentences-for-ex-peanut-officials-in-salmonella-outbreak/
By Doug Powell (Oct 01, 2015)
USA Today reports that two ex-officials of Peanut Corporation of America drew lenient sentences Thursday for their self-admitted roles in a Salmonella outbreak blamed for killing nine and sickening hundreds.
Georgia U.S. District Court Judge W. Louis Sands sentenced Samuel Lightsey, 50, a former operations manager at the peanut firm’s Blakely, Ga. plant, to serve three years in prison. Daniel Kilgore, 46, another ex-manager at the plant, drew a six-year sentence from the judge.
Sands allowed them to remain free, pending voluntary surrender after the U.S. Bureau of Prisons designates the correctional facilities where they will serve their sentences.
Both reached plea agreements with prosecutors that limited their punishment when they pleaded guilty last year to conspiracy, mail and wire fraud, along with sale of misbranded and adulterated food.
They later testified as government witnesses during the 2014 federal trial that ended with criminal convictions of ex-Peanut corporation of America owner Stewart Parnell and two other former top executives.
The case stemmed from findings by the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that traced a national salmonella outbreak to the Parnell firm’s peanut roasting plant in Blakely. The incident sickened 714 people in 46 states and may have contributed to nine deaths, the CDC reported.
The illnesses erupted in January 2009 and prompted one of the largest food recalls in U.S. history.
Parnell, 61, was sentenced to a virtual life term — 28 years behind bars — on Sept. 21. His brother, Michael Parnell, received a 20-year term, and former quality control manager Mary Wilkerson, drew a five-year sentence.
Sands ordered the Parnell brothers to surrender immediately, denying defense arguments that they should be permitted to remain free on bond pending appeals of their convictions.
Government evidence presented at the trial established that Lightsey and Kilgore knowingly helped the top executives fabricate certificates of analysis in a scheme that falsely showed peanut butter from the Blakely plant was free of Salmonella and other pathogens. In fact, there had been no testing of the product, or tests had confirmed contamination, prosecutors showed.
Worthy Burger E. coli Outbreak Grows to Nine Patients
Source : https://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2015/worthy-burger-e-coli-outbreak-grows-to-nine-patients/
By News Desk (Oct 01, 2015)
The E. coli outbreak at Worthy Burger restaurant in South Royalton, Vermont has grown, according to what Bradley Tompkins, a health surveillance epidemiologist with the Vermont Department of Health, told Valley News. Two more cases have been linked to the restaurant, making the total to date six confirmed and three probable cases. The state has not updated its news release about this outbreak since September 22, 2015.
Eight of the nine patients at ground beef at Worthy Burger in August and September of this year. State health inspectors found the DNA of Shiga toxin, the compound produced by E. coli bacteria, in an unopened package of beef at the restaurant. They believe that undercooked burgers served at that restaurant are the source of the pathogenic bacteria that caused the illnesses.
Valley News also stated that investigators grew the E. coli bacteria from the meat in a laboratory and it was a slightly different strain than the outbreak strain. But, the department thinks that the ground beef from the restaurant is to blame, based on epidemiologic evidence. Interviews with patients revealed that eight of the nine people who are sick ate at the Worthy Burger restaurant in the days before they got sick.
The USDA is trying to trace the beef back to the slaughterhouse where it was produced. Health officials are not going to release the name of the slaughterhouse or any distributor until they have more information and conclusive evidence. Slaughterhouses are supposed to test their product for Shiga toxin-producing E. coli bacteria before it is released into commerce.
E. coli bacteria live in the digestive tracts of cows and other ruminant animals, but they don’t get sick. When those animals are killed, the bacteria from the intestines gets onto the meat when the intestines rupture. Then, when that meat is ground to make hamburgers, the bacteria is mixed all through the product.
Undercooked ground beef, served as hamburgers or meatloaf, can then contain live E. coli bacteria. Anyone who eats that food can get sick. It can take just 10 E. coli bacteria, in a microscopic cluster, to make someone seriously ill.
The symptoms of E. coli food poisoning include severe stomach and abdominal cramps, diarrhea that may be watery and/or bloody, fever, nausea, and vomiting. Most people who contract this infection do see their doctors because they are so sick.
Vermont officials are asking doctors in that state to keep an eye out for anyone presenting with these symptoms. They should be tested for E. coli infections. E. coli is a reportable illness, so doctors must inform state health officials when one of their patients is diagnosed.
In some people, E. coli infections can lead to a serious complication called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). This illness can cause strokes, heart attacks, kidney failure, and death. The symptoms of HUS include lethargy, paleness, a skin rash, unexplained small bruises, and low or no urine output. If anyone experiences these symptoms, they should be taken to a doctor as soon as possible.
Most Current: Kapowsin Meats Pork Salmonella Outbreak and Litigation
Source : http://www.foodpoisonjournal.com/foodborne-illness-outbreaks/most-current-kapowsin-meats-pork-salmonella-outbreak-and-litigation/#.VhHYyhGheUl
By Drew Falkenstein (Sep 30, 2015)
At Least Five Lawsuits Filed.
As of August 27, 2015, 152 ill people infected with the outbreak strains of Salmonella I 4,,12:i:- have been reported from Washington. Since the last update on August 14, 18 more ill people have been reported.
Among people for whom information is available, illnesses started on dates ranging from April 25, 2015 to August 12, 2015. Ill people range in age from 1 to 90 years, with a median age of 35. Forty-seven percent of ill people are female. Among 144 ill people with available information, 24 (17%) report being hospitalized. No deaths have been reported.
Illnesses that occurred after August 13, 2015 might not be reported yet due to the time it takes between when a person becomes ill and when the illness is reported. This takes an average of 2 to 4 weeks. Please see the Timeline for Reporting Cases of Salmonella Infection for more details.
Epidemiologic, laboratory, and traceback findings identified pork produced by Kapowsin Meats as a likely source of this outbreak of Salmonella I 4,,12:i:- infections. This investigation is ongoing.
In ongoing interviews, ill people answered questions about foods eaten and other exposures in the week before they became ill. Of 89 people for whom information is available, 65 (73%) reported eating pork in the week before becoming ill. This proportion was significantly higher than results from a survey of healthy people in which 43% reported eating pork in the week before they were interviewed.
USDA-FSIS has been conducting intensified sampling at Kapowsin Meats while this establishment took steps to address sanitary conditions at their facility after the original recall on August 13, 2015. Sampling revealed positive results for Salmonella I 4,,12:i:- on whole pigs for barbeque, associated pork products, and throughout the establishment. Kapowsin Meats has voluntarily suspended operations. As a result of the ongoing investigation, on August 27, 2015, Kapowsin Meats issued an expanded recall of approximately 523,380 pounds of pork products that may be contaminated with Salmonella I 4,,12:i:-. Recalled pork products include whole pigs for barbeque and fabricated pork products including various pork offal products, pork blood, and pork trim. The products subject to recall bear the establishment number “Est. 1628” inside the USDA mark of inspection and were produced on several dates between April 18, 2015 and August 26, 2015. The products were shipped to various individuals, retail locations, institutions, and distributors in Alaska, Oregon, and Washington.
Salmonella Outbreak Linked to Aspen Chicken Grows
Source : https://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2015/salmonella-outbreak-linked-to-aspen-chicken-grows/
By Carla Gillespie (Sep 30, 2015)
A Salmonella outbreak linked raw, frozen breaded chicken products from Aspen Foods has sickened five people in Minnesota hospitalizing two of them. The company, which has been linked to other Salmonella outbreaks, has a systemic Salmonella problem, the USDA said two weeks ago.
The current outbreak, announced by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in June, followed another Salmonella outbreak linked to the same products a year earlier. Between August 17, 2014 and September 27, 2014 six people in Minnesota got Salmonella infections from Antioch Farms brand frozen, raw Chicken Kiev produced at the Aspen Foods facility in Chicago.
Officials from the Minnesota Department of Health said that during interviews with case patients they learned that some of them followed cooking instructions to the letter. That led them to suspect that the chicken was contaminated with so much Salmonella that it would be very difficult to prepare it without getting sick. The Aspen Foods plant in Chicago that produced the the Antioch Farms chicken Kiev had been linked to a Salmonella outbreak years before.
The 2014 outbreak was announced by Minnesota health and agriculture officials in late October 2014 and a recall of 14 tons of chicken products followed. After the this year’s outbreak was announced July 3, it was two weeks before Aspen issued a recall for 2 million pounds of frozen chicken products.
Since that time the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service has stepped up monitoring at the plant and has found Salmonella in twelve samples. “The twelve positive samples collected during FSIS’ intensified sampling efforts alerted FSIS to a systemic problem at the establishment. FSIS cannot have confidence in the safety of any products produced after July 30, 2015,” the agency said.
Since that time, FSIS began increased monitoring at the plant and has found Salmonella in twelve samples. “The twelve positive samples collected during FSIS’ intensified sampling efforts alerted FSIS to a systemic problem at the establishment. FSIS cannot have confidence in the safety of any products produced after July 30, 2015,” the agency said. However, Aspen has not issued a recall for additional products so FSIS issued a public health alert covers all frozen, raw, stuffed and breaded chicken products produced by Aspen Foods between July 30, 2015 and September 17, 2015.
The breaded chicken items were labeled as “chicken cordon bleu,” “chicken Kiev” or “chicken broccoli and cheese” and have the establishment number “P-1358” inside the USDA mark of inspection. They were sold nationwide under the brand names Acclaim, Antioch Farms, Buckley Farms, Centrella Signature, Chestnut Farms, Family Favorites, Kirkwood, Koch Foods, Market Day, Oven Cravers, Rose, Rosebud Farm, Roundy’s, Safeway Kitchens, Schwan’s, Shaner’s, Spartan and Sysco.
Consumers and food service locations who have these products in their freezers should throw them out. Wear gloves when handling the box and carefully clean and sanitize any surfaces it contacts. Dispose of the product by sealing it in a plastic bag so that it does not transmit more disease.
Salmonella bacteria live in the intestines of animals and are shed in their feces. Contamination can happen during slaughter and transmit disease when food tainted with microscopic amounts of fecal material is ingested. The infection called, salmonellosis, causes diarrhea that can be bloody, abdominal cramps, and fever. Usually these symptoms develop within six to 72 hours after exposure and last up to a week. But for some people, the diarrhea may be so severe that the patient needs to be hospitalized. Seniors, children and those with weakened immune systems are most likely to develop a severe illness.
Anyone who has eaten these products and developed symptoms of an infection should see a doctor and mention exposure to Salmonella. A stool culture can confirm an infection and determine if it is part of an outbreak
Update: Six Vermont E. Coli Cases Being Linked to Undercooked Ground Beef
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2015/09/5-people-sickened-with-e-coli-in-vermont/#.VhHcFRGheUl
By Lydia Zuraw (Sep 30, 2015)
Officials with the Vermont Department of Health say that two more cases of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) have been linked to ground beef that was served at Worthy Burger in South Royalton, VT. That brings the outbreak total to six confirmed and three probable cases.
According to a Wednesday, Sept. 30, news report, state health inspectors found the DNA of Shiga toxin in unopened packaged beef at Worthy Burger and believe that undercooked hamburgers were the source of the contamination.
Bradley Tompkins, a health surveillance epidemiologist with the Vermont Department of Health, said all those sickened have recovered, although to varying degrees.
Eight of the nine people ate ground beef at Worthy Burger between the end of August and the middle of September, when department investigators inspected the restaurant, recommended some changes, and took samples of ground beef and lettuce to test.
Tompkins said the lettuce tested negative, but DNA for Shiga toxin was found in the ground beef. However, an effort to grow the E. coli in the lab resulted in a slightly different strain than the one found in those sickened.
“It’s certainly not conclusive that it did come from the ground beef, (but) based on the interviews that were done with the patients and that we found the E. coli and the Shiga toxins … we do believe the outbreak was caused by the ground beef that was being undercooked from the restaurant,” Tompkins said.
The USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) said the situation was still being investigated and the ground beef traced back to where it came from.
The restaurant closed on Sept. 17 for five days to make some changes and has switched to using ground beef from a different slaughterhouse. The executive chef at Worthy Burger said he believed that the problem occurred at the previous slaughterhouse and not at the farm.
To kill any harmful bacteria, USDA’s FSIS recommends that ground beef be cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 160 degrees F as measured with a food thermometer.
The original story follows:
The Vermont Department of Health is investigating a cluster of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) infections in Vermont residents.
As of Sept. 22, five laboratory-confirmed STEC infections and two probable cases have been identified. Two of the confirmed cases and one of the probable cases are children. No one has been hospitalized.
Bradley Tompkins, epidemiologist with the Vermont Department of Health, told Food Safety News that all of those sickened had dined at Worthy Burger in South Royalton, VT.
Valley News reported that Worthy Burger switched food vendors after being contacted by the health department and voluntarily closed for mechanical issues for several days and reopened Tuesday.
The investigation into the food source is ongoing.
Clinicians seeing patients who are experiencing symptoms consistent with an STEC infection are asked to immediately contact the health department’s Infectious Disease Epidemiology Unit and are encouraged to collect a stool specimen and have it tested for STEC.
STEC infections can cause diarrhea (often bloody), nausea, stomach cramps and vomiting. Most patients recover from their illness. Approximately 5-10 percent of cases (especially children younger than age five) develop hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) as a result of their infection.
UK Woman Sickened by Norovirus From Oysters Despite Not Eating Them
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2015/09/uk-woman-sickened-by-norovirus-from-oysters-despite-not-eating-them/#.VhHZABGheUl
By News Desk (Sep 30, 2015)
A British woman was recently sickened with norovirus from oysters, although she hadn’t eaten any. It turns out that she got the infection from a friend who got it from eating the oysters.
Natalie Dye, 49, of Esher, Surrey, reportedly dined at a restaurant with friends after a seaside holiday and consciously avoided eating any oysters, the specialty of the house.
“I am careful with anything raw or undercooked because I hate being ill, so I didn’t have one,” she said.
When her friend who had eaten the oysters became ill within 24 hours with vomiting and diarrhea, Dye felt sorry for him but was glad she hadn’t had any. However, she became ill two days later with the same symptoms as her friend.
“I was hot then cold, I ached all over, then I started vomiting uncontrollably. I was bedridden for two days and weak and ill for a week. My husband called the GP and we were amazed when he told us that Richard’s oyster was almost certainly the cause,” Dye said.
She speculated that she might have caught the norovirus when she helped take care of her friend, sat with him in the car, or hugged him goodbye.
“I simply didn’t realize his food poisoning was contagious,” she said.
A two-year study in the U.K. revealed in 2011 that 75 percent of British-raised oysters contain norovirus, according to BBC News. The virus is estimated to affect as many as 1 million people there every year.
The study, by the U.K. Food Standards Agency, did not change the agency’s public health warnings. FSA still advises people that eating raw oysters is a food safety risk, and that older people, pregnant women, young children and those with health problems should not eat raw oysters or other raw shellfish.
However, because norovirus is so contagious, a person can get it even without eating the problematic food item but just by being around someone who already has the virus from that food source.
A University of Southampton microbiologist, Dr. Ian Clarke, said that oysters are a common source of foodborne outbreaks.
“It can start by one person eating a norovirus-contaminated oyster and then passing the virus on by person-to-person contact,” he noted.
Researchers recently found that oysters allow viruses to live, grow, and produce more virulent strains. The norovirus, like cold and flu viruses, can mutate, and therefore new strains can cause outbreaks in those with no immunity to them.
The research team, headed by Professor Yongjie Wang from Shanghai Ocean University, analyzed the genetic material of more than 1,000 norovirus samples taken from oysters and found that more than 80 percent of the known human norovirus strains were in oysters.
In addition, new strains found in oysters matched those in new outbreaks in humans, and 90 percent of norovirus outbreaks could be traced to coastal regions, according to the research.
The reason why not everyone gets sick when they eat an oyster is because many of the norovirus-contaminated bivalves contain the virus at such a low level that it doesn’t affect people, Clarke said.
Will China's new food safety rules work?
Source : http://www.bbc.com/news/blogs-china-blog-34398412
By Celia Hatton (Sep 30, 2015)
The harvest has come early to a small organic farm just outside Beijing. Workers can only manage a brief smile and a glance upwards as they place vegetables into boxes bound for market.
Standing in the background is Liu Yujing. She sticks out as the only one not covered in dirt. That's because she's just here to watch. She runs an organics delivery business that buys vegetables from this farm and others. Ms Liu started her company with other concerned parents, not for profit, but out of fear.
"In the very beginning, I just wanted to find safe food for my daughter," she explains. "Other mums and I read books on food safety issues. We realised how serious the problems were and decided to do something ourselves."
Ms Liu admits that her delivery service, the Green League, has fought an uphill battle to find farmers willing to use organic methods. And also, to locate customers willing to pay more for clean food.
"When we started in 2010, many consumers didn't know what organic meant," Ms Liu explains. "They asked me, is organic a type of chemical? Now, they know. More and more people are promoting this concept."
Not everyone in China can afford to source their own relatively expensive organic vegetables. Many depend on the government to fix the growing food safety problem.
Fake rice made of plastic pellets, imitation eggs made out of gelatine, and decades-old frozen meat destined for market - China has had more than its fair share of food scandals in recent years.
The most jarring - infant formula tainted with the industrial chemical melamine. In 2008, it caused babies' kidneys to malfunction - killing six infants and hospitalising 300,000 others.
A recent poll from the Pew Research Center reveals that concerns over food safety have tripled in China since the milk crisis of 2008. More than a third of people believe persistent safety issues with the country's food is a "very big problem".
Now a sweeping new law is meant to clean up China's entire food supply - banning highly toxic pesticides, regulating food labelling and, importantly, increasing punishments for those who violate China's existing laws. There's a new burden of responsibility placed on everyone who handles food - from farms and fields to restaurants and food stalls.
There are hopes the new law can rebuild people's trust in Chinese-made food. But many are sceptical the safety law will lead to a quick fix.
"It's a stricter, more extensive law and I think it will bring some changes," says Yao Bo, a popular online commentator who often writes about food safety issues.
"But China is a huge country with a large number of farmers so enforcement will be hard. Following the food chain from start to end is nearly impossible. Progress is going to be very slow, and we have a long way to go."
Mr Bo explains that land in China can't be privatised, so it is difficult for individuals or companies to build up large plots of land. That means that farming is still quite piecemeal, making it difficult for the government to track.
"We welcome this new law, but I am not optimistic it will be enforced," says Yu Fangqiang, founder and executive director of Justice for All, a policy advocacy NGO in China.
"It seems that the legislators are trying to write a law just to please the Communist Party leaders. For example, the law states it will establish 'a very strict supervision system', which isn't a formal or legal term."
At an outdoor restaurant in Beijing, lunch goers are also pessimistic that the law will change China's food system. One chef is vigorously stirring a large portion of fried vegetables. Next to her, another woman spoons raw pork into dumpling wrappers. Flies buzz around the food and no one bothers to sweep them away. Customer after customer had few positive things to say when asked about food safety in China.
"The food here is obviously unhygienic, but I have no other choice but to buy it," shrugs one young woman.
She questions whether the law will change anything. "The government and businesses both have a responsibility to take care of food safety. But the government doesn't always enforce the regulations."
Over speedy bowls of noodles and rice, there's an air of resignation among the lunch crowd here. Despite the government's good intentions, the hungry crowds here feel that China's complicated food problems won't disappear in a hurry.
Did You Have a Listeria Infection in the Last Five Years?
Source : https://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2015/did-you-have-a-listeria-infection-in-the-last-five-years/
By Linda Larsen (Sep 29, 2015)
A strange outbreak was announced this month by the FDA and CDC. At least 22 people were sick with five rare and very similar strains of Listeria monocytogenes; 22 of them were hospitalized. That’s not uncommon, but here’s the weird part: those illnesses began in 2010.
Government officials investigated, and found that 83% of those patients reported eating soft cheeses in the month before they got sick. Further investigation found that four of seven ill people specified a brand of soft cheese distributed by Karoun Dairies of San Fernando, California.
Whole genome sequencing (WGS) analysis of two environmental samples collected by the FDA showed Listeria monocytogenes bacteria that is “highly related” to the outbreak strains found in sick people. Those samples were collected at Central Valley Cheese facility in Turlock, California. Central Valley manufactures cheese for Karoun Dairies. More WGS analysis found that five environmental samples collected from the Central Valley facility in 2010 were also highly related to the outbreak strains. Which means that Karoun Dairies cheeses are the likely source of this outbreak.
The CDC report states that fifteen of the 24 people sickened were of Middle Eastern or Eastern European descent or shopped at Middle Eastern-style markets. Some of Karoun’s cheeses are quite unusual, including ani, kefir, feta, Middle Eastern-style string cheese, village cheese, and nabulsi. Patients identifying those cheeses made narrowing down the source of the bacteria much easier, so the mystery was solved.
But with cases going back so far, our question is: are people who are part of this outbreak told about it? Food poisoning infections are quite memorable simply because you can be so sick, and most people would certainly remember having a Listeria infection. But how do you know if you are part of this outbreak?
We contacted health departments in all of the nine states where patients lived (plus Minnesota), and got some interesting responses. It turns out that whether outbreak members are contacted depends on the state where they live.
Epidemiologist Amy Saupe from the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) told us that in Minnesota, people are usually interviewed several times during an outbreak. Most cases are called back with more questions, but people are not identified and notified when an outbreak is discovered. She said that general methods for notification differ by state.
In Michigan, Jennifer Eisner, Public Information Officer, said that officials forward the outbreak information to the local health department where the patient lives. The local health department was told about this particular outbreak, recall, and the CDC report as soon as state officials knew about it, but it was then up to the local health department to contact the patient.
Woody McMillin, Director of Communications and Media Relations of the Tennessee Department of Health said, “we reach out to all Listeria cases to interview them. In this circumstance we would not reach back out to the ill person unless we needed to ask additional questions. We do notify people in some circumstances when we are investigating an outbreak but that is typically during active investigations.”
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment lets current patients know that they are part of an ongoing outbreak, according to Mark Salley, Communications Director. The case in Colorado occurred this year so that patient is aware of the outbreak. He said there isn’t a formal process for alerting previously ill persons about their links to outbreaks.
Melani Amato, Public Information Officer of the Ohio Department of Health, said that Ohio’s case was from some years ago, and that patient died. She said that after the initial interview, that DOH does not usually contact patients again unless they can provide a public health response.
Ronald Owens of the California Department of Public Health’s Office of Public Affairs told us that CDPH notifies local public health departments of case-patients that are associated with an outbreak. CDPH does not usually communicate directly with case-patients. He added that in most cases doctors would not know that a patient is linked to an outbreak. Mr. Owens also said that this outbreak was identified through whole genome sequences methods, which were not available in 2010.
Omar Cabrera from the Communications Office at the Department of Public Health in Massachusetts said that they do not do follow ups with old cases unless the CDC needs additional information from that person. He said that they may need to call someone back to find out epidemiological issues, such as the foods they ate or places they have been. Sometimes they do inform someone who is part of a multistate outbreak.
Amy Saupe of the MDH added that the CDC cannot let people know they are part of an outbreak, since the federal government doesn’t have access to private data such as case names and contact information. In addition, most state health departments don’t have the resources to re-contact everyone who is part of an outbreak.
The patient’s doctor would usually be unable to tell a person they are part of an outbreak because they don’t have access to sub typing information or other details about the outbreak, according to Saupe. But, patient information is kept by state or local health departments.
So. If you had a Listeria monocytogenes infection in the last five years and ate soft cheeses from Karoun Dairies, you can contact your state or local health department to ask if you are part of this outbreak. The symptoms of listeriosis include flu-like fever and muscle aches, upset stomach or diarrhea, stiff neck, headache, and loss of balance. Pregnant women are especially susceptible to this infection; in fact, one woman in this outbreak sadly suffered a miscarriage.
The Government’s Role in Food Safety
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2015/09/the-governments-role-in-food-safety/#.VhHZ3RGheUl
By Sen. Jon Tester (Sep 29, 2015)
(U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, a Montana Democrat, was co-author of the Tester-Hagan Amendment to the Food Safety Modernization Act, which exempted certain small, local producers from regulation. He sits on the Senate Appropriations Committee and also on its Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies.)
As an organic farmer from north-central Montana, I’ve always believed it’s important for consumers to know where their food comes from.
Too many folks now think that milk comes from a carton, not a cow.
This is largely due to the rise of multi-national food corporations, which dominate the marketplace. In the United States, four companies own more than 80 percent of the beef market, and one company, Monsanto, controls 85 percent of the corn and 91 percent of the soybeans.
More and more large food companies have ingredients coming from farms and ranches all across the globe, and their products are processed in numerous plants around the world.
These types of complex production chains have created consumers who have no idea where their food comes from and government regulations tailored to multi-billion-dollar corporations.
But with the rise of the local food movement and the consumer’s desire to return to the core principles of safety and transparency, we need to adjust government regulations so they work for smaller, less complex food chains.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the number of farmers markets increased by more than 50 percent over five years, from a little more than 5,200 in 2009 to more than 8,200 in 2014.
Small producers know where their apples were grown, probably in their backyard; they know where they turned them into a pie, probably in their kitchen. It’s a simple supply chain with less opportunity for contamination, so why should they be subject to the same regulations as Betty Crocker?
That’s why, in 2010, I was proud to help pass the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) and include a small producer exemption to ensure that folks who sell food directly to consumers weren’t subject to the same rules as major ag corporations.
My amendment protects small family farms from overly burdensome regulations aimed at big businesses with complex supply chains. Those regulations would do little to improve food safety for the small producers while undoubtedly forcing some of these operations out of business. We’re talking about farmers and processors who sell their product at farmers markets and directly to local restaurants — not national chains. For these folks, keeping food safety regulations at the state and local level makes a lot of sense. My amendment also allows FDA to remove this exemption in the rare instance that the farm or facility is linked to an outbreak of any kind.
By cutting red tape for small producers, we are giving these entrepreneurs a better shot at success. And when they succeed and more folks are buying local, more consumers know how their food came from the ground to their kitchen table.
This is the key to food safety.
The relationship between a family and their farmer is important, not just to ensure the safety of food, but to preserve a rural way of life that is the backbone of so many economies.
My wife Sharla and I actively farm 1,800 acres in north-central Montana, the same land my grandparents homesteaded more than 100 years ago.
We transitioned our traditional farm to organic almost 30 years ago because we felt a responsibility to the folks who buy the wheat, barley, safflower and kamut that we grow.
Just like us, there are small family farms and ranches across this country which respect the land and are committed to producing the safest, highest-quality products possible.
We don’t view it as producing a commodity; we view it as growing a source of nutrition to feed our families.
So, the next time you buy a loaf of bread or a carton of milk, try to trace it back to its source.
If that food makes you sick, would you be able to pinpoint where it came from? What recourse would you have?
These questions may stump the clerk at your big-brand supermarket, but I know the producers at your local farmers market will always know the answer.
When folks can easily trace the food chain, it empowers them and protects them, and local businesses will thrive and grow.
China Says It’s Getting Serious About Its Food Safety Laws
Source : https://munchies.vice.com/articles/china-says-its-getting-serious-about-its-food-safety-laws
By Alex Swerdloff (Sep 29, 2015)
China has faced food safety problems so horrifying and otherworldly, they sound more like plotlines to surreal B-movies than anything that actually happened on terra firma. A criminal gang attempts to sell meat from the 70s… in 2015; killers mix baby formula with antifreeze and terrorize a nation; a gang of thugs sell gutter oil to grocery stores and rake in millions.
Decent movie ideas. If only they weren’t true.
READ: Who Needs a Time Machine When You Can Eat This 40-Year-Old Meat Instead??
But now China has revised its food safety laws. Or perhaps we should say it has revised its food safety laws again. After all, the last overhaul, which did not result in radical changes, took place in 2009. The newly revised laws will go into effect later this week.
Under the new laws, violators will face what are widely regarded as the heaviest civil and criminal punishments ever mandated in China. Whistleblowers will be rewarded for telling authorities about violations. In addition, according to Xinhua News Agency, companies that violate the law will have restrictions placed on their “loans, taxation, bidding and land use”—penalties not typically seen under Western law.
China, it seems, is now getting serious. An official from the Ministry of Public Security has said he wants to train police units in food crimes. The government also wants to coordinate responsibilities among the various agencies that deal with food safety. This is a welcome advance, according to Bian Yongmin, a professor at the China University of Political Science and Law, who says, “The involvement of so many authorities also [causes] problems of coordination from enactment to enforcement.”
But despite these measures, experts say it is unclear whether the changes to the law will do the trick in actually improving China’s food safety. Even four years ago, food safety violators faced no less than the death penalty for cases in which people died from their ill deeds. Still, China’s food safety record remained, well, abysmal.
The problems in China run deep. With a huge population, a relatively small amount of farmable land, and lots of tiny, subsistence farms, China’s problems are not easily fixed. Organic food and imports have become popular amongst those who can afford them.
In addition, China’s legal system is not exactly a paragon of justice. Commenting on China’s last update of its food safety laws in 2009, Time wrote that China’s “legal system still struggles with corruption and a willingness of some local authorities to prioritize growth over health and safety.”
But some are hopeful that the new law will lead to the radical change China so desperately needs. One step in the right direction, or at least a step toward some awesome TV in China: Trials of some notorious food crimes will be broadcast live.
Also, the Supreme People’s Procuratorate, the highest agency responsible for investigating and prosecuting legal matters in the People’s Republic, has said it will “take action over neglect of duty in food production as well as safety supervision.”
Huo Yapeng of the Supreme People’s Procuratorate says he is hopeful: “By analyzing the underlying causes of the cases through investigations and trials and drawing lessons from them, the SPP will be able to give advice and help businesses set up regulations and fix loopholes.”
We’ll see. In the meantime, listen up, Hollywood screenwriters: if you’re looking for innovative disaster plotlines, look no farther than Chinese food news.
CDC Update: 3 Deaths, 671 Salmonella Cases in 34 States Linked to Cucumbers
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2015/09/1-death-more-than-300-confirmed-salmonella-cases-in-27-states-linked-to-mexican-cucumbers/#.VhHcSRGheUl
By Cathy Siegner (Sep 29, 2015)
Sept. 29 update: The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) again updated this outbreak on Tuesday, Sept. 29. There are currently three deaths, 131 hospitalizations and 671 confirmed cases being reported in 34 states. The deaths being reported are in Arizona, California and Texas (one each).
Since the previous update a week ago, there have been 113 more Salmonella infections reported to CDC from 19 states, and Alabama was added to the list of states reporting cases.
Bulk unwrapped cucumbers in box“Given the 14-day shelf life of cucumbers, it is not unexpected to continue to see illnesses reported after the recalls,” CDC noted.
Previous coverage follows:
Sept. 22 update: The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) again updated this outbreak on Tuesday, Sept. 22. There are currently three deaths, 112 hospitalizations and 558 confirmed cases being reported in 33 states. The deaths being reported are in Arizona, California and Texas (one each).
Since the previous CDC update a week ago, this latest report reflects an increase of 140 confirmed cases, 21 additional hospitalizations, and confirmed cases in residents of two additional states (Iowa and South Dakota, with one each).
Previous coverage follows:
The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) updated this outbreak on Tuesday, Sept. 15. There are currently two deaths, 91 hospitalizations and 418 confirmed cases being reported in 31 states. The deaths being reported are in California and Texas (one each).
The total number of confirmed cases is 77 more than CDC’s most recent Sept. 9 update, and Indiana, with two cases, was added to the total list of states reporting confirmed cases of Salmonella linked to Mexican cucumbers.
Previous coverage follows:
The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) updated this outbreak on Wednesday, Sept. 9. There are now two deaths, 70 hospitalizations and 341 confirmed cases being reported in 30 states. The deaths being reported are in California and Texas (one each). That is 56 more confirmed cases since CDC’s Sept. 4 update.
The Sept. 9 CDC update included this information:
•53 percent those sickened are children younger than 18 years.
•Epidemiologic, laboratory, and traceback investigations have identified imported cucumbers from Mexico and distributed by Andrew & Williamson Fresh Produce as a likely source of the infections in this outbreak. •91 (68 percent) of 134 people interviewed reported eating cucumbers in the week before their illness began.
•Eleven illness clusters have been identified in seven states. In all of these clusters, interviews found that cucumbers were a food item eaten in common by ill people.
•Arizona, California, Montana, and Nevada isolated Salmonella from samples of cucumbers collected from various locations that were distributed by Andrew & Williamson Fresh Produce.
•On Sept. 4, 2015, Andrew & Williamson Fresh Produce voluntarily recalled all cucumbers sold under the “Limited Edition” brand label during the period from Aug. 1, 2015, through Sept. 3, 2015, because they may be contaminated with Salmonella. •The type of cucumber is often referred to as a “slicer” or “American” cucumber and is dark green in color. Typical length is 7 to 10 inches. In retail locations, the cucumbers are typically sold in a bulk display without any individual packaging or plastic wrapping.
•Limited Edition cucumbers were distributed in the states of Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Texas, and Utah. Further distribution to other states may have occurred.
•Consumers should not eat, restaurants should not serve, and retailers should not sell recalled cucumbers. •If you aren’t sure if your cucumbers were recalled, ask the place of purchase or your supplier. When in doubt, don’t eat, sell, or serve them and throw them out.
The original Food Safety News story, posted Sept. 4, follows:
A multi-state outbreak of Salmonella Poona linked to imported Mexican cucumbers has apparently sickened more than 300 people from 27 states and hospitalized 53 of them, according to an alert posted Friday afternoon by the New Mexico Department of Health and additional reporting by Food Safety News.
A statement released Friday by the California Department of Public Health reported that there has been one related death in California, and that additional cases were continuing to come in.
Mexican cucumbers in boxThe U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released information on the outbreak at 8 p.m. Eastern Time Friday night.
According to CDC, “Among people for whom information is available, illnesses started on dates ranging from July 3, 2015 to August 26, 2015. Ill people range in age from less than 1 year to 99, with a median age of 13. Fifty-four percent of ill people are children younger than 18 years. Fifty-seven percent of ill people are female. Among 160 people with available information, 53 (33%) report being hospitalized. One death has been reported from California.”
Fifteen confirmed cases were announced Friday in New Mexico, as well as 11 confirmed cases (with two suspected) reported from eight counties in Montana.
Thursday’s total case count was 285, and the total on Friday was said to have climbed higher than that.
“I know that it’s over 300 now,” Mark DiMenna, deputy director of the Albuquerque Environmental Health Department, told Food Safety News.
He said the breakdown of the 285 S. Poona cases by state as of Sept. 3 was as follows: AK (8), AR (6), AZ (60), CA (51), CO (14), ID (8), IL (5), KS (1), LA (3), MN (12), MO (7), MT (11), NE (2), NM (15), NV (7), NY (4), ND (1), OH (2), OK (5), OR (3), SC (6), TX (9), UT (30), VA (1), WA (9), WI (2), WY (3).
He said that Albuquerque health inspectors come in from the field on Friday and contacted anybody in grocery stores or restaurants who might have received the Mexican cucumbers.
“We contacted anybody who we knew had gotten them and asked them to pull them off the shelves,” he said, adding that barring an official recall, product removal would be on a voluntary basis.
While DiMenna wouldn’t name the distributor involved, he noted that several outlets in his area had already been contacted by them.
“It’s an indication of the scale of that distributor,” he said.
On Friday, a San Diego produce distributor, Andrew & Williamson Fresh Produce, recalled cucumbers imported from Mexico for Salmonella risk. Andrew & Williamson also supplies vegetables to Red Lobster and In-And-Out restaurants, among others, according to an Oklahoma City TV station.
California health department officials stated that Andrew & Williamson had initiated a voluntary recall of their garden cucumbers after being informed of the epidemiologic association between these cucumbers and the Salmonella Poona outbreak.
The recalled garden cucumbers can be identified in distribution channels as ‘Limited Edition’ brand pole grown cucumbers. The labeling on these cases indicates the product was grown and packed by Rancho Don Juanito in Mexico. These cucumbers were distributed between August 1 – September 3, 2015,” the department stated.
The Mexican cucumbers being linked to the current S. Poona outbreak are not the long, thin ones that come wrapped in plastic (English cucumbers) nor the small pickle-shaped type (Persian cucumbers). They are the thick-skinned, unwrapped type of garden-variety cucumbers and were sent to grocery stores and restaurants in New Mexico and other states through a produce distributor.
CDC reported Friday that several state health and agriculture departments are collecting leftover cucumbers from restaurants and grocery stores where ill people reported eating or shopping to test for the presence of Salmonella.
“The San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency isolated Salmonella from cucumbers collected during a visit to the Andrew & Williamson Fresh Produce facility. DNA ‘fingerprinting’ is being conducted to determine the PFGE pattern of the Salmonella isolated from these cucumbers. Results of additional product testing will be reported when available,” CDC stated.
The New Mexico Health Department noted in its Friday announcement that officials there were working with CDC, FDA, the New Mexico Environment Department, the Albuquerque Environmental Health Department, and multiple other state health departments on the outbreak investigation.
epi-curve-09-5-2015According to the state health department there, the 15 New Mexico cases are seven residents of Bernalillo County, two residents of Doña Ana County, two residents of Sandoval County, and one resident from McKinley, Santa Fe, and Valencia counties, respectively, with one case of unknown residence at this time.
Several of the New Mexicans sickened were hospitalized, ranged in age from 1 to 65 years of age, and approximately 60 percent are female. Illness onset ranged from July 30 to late August, according to the health department.
New Mexico health officials recommended that New Mexicans not buy, sell, eat, or serve cucumbers grown commercially in Mexico until additional information is available from the CDC and FDA.
“If you have any concerns we recommend that you ask your retail grocer where the cucumbers you purchased were grown. When in doubt as to their origin, do not eat them, and throw them out,” they stated.
California health officials sent out a photo of a box of the recalled cucumbers, noting that, “It is unlikely that cucumbers in retail grocery stores will have any identifying brand information. CDPH recommends that consumers check with their grocer to determine if the cucumbers they purchased are impacted by this warning.”
People who are at high risk for Salmonella infection include: infants, elderly, those with compromised immune systems, including persons on immunosuppressive therapies or medications, and pregnant women. Healthy adults rarely develop severe illness. It is important for people at high risk to follow the standard CDC guidance about Salmonella. People can decrease their risk of Salmonella infection through proper food handling and preparation and by practicing proper hand washing and hygiene practices.
Eating food contaminated with Salmonella can cause salmonellosis, an uncommon but potentially serious infection. Salmonellosis is characterized by an acute onset of headache, abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea, and sometimes vomiting. Dehydration, especially among infants, may be severe.
This is not the first Salmonella outbreak linked to cucumbers. An outbreak of Salmonella Newport in 2014 affected a total of 275 people in 29 states and the District of Columbia, with illness onsets occurring during May 20 to Sept. 30, 2014. That outbreak was linked to cucumbers grown in the Delmarva region of Maryland’s Eastern Shore.
Forget 5-second rule, and other food safety facts
Source : http://www.delawareonline.com/story/news/health/2015/09/28/forget-second-rule-food-safety-facts/72934130/
By MARIANNE CARTER (Sep 28, 2015)
Food poisoning is not as rare as people may think. There are about 48 million cases of foodborne illness annually – the equivalent of sickening 1 in 6 Americans each year. These illnesses result in over 120,000 hospitalizations.
September is National Food Safety Month, and the Delaware Division of Public Health is working hard to dispel common myths about food safety.
They reveal that one of the most common food safety myths is if you drop food on the floor and pick it up within five seconds, it's safe to eat.
The fact is that the "five-second rule," or other timed variations, doesn't prevent bacteria and other germs from getting on fallen food. If you can't wash the food that has fallen on the floor, don't eat it.
Test your Food Safety I.Q. below (source: www.FoodSafety.gov):
Myth: Food poisoning isn’t that big of a deal. I just have to tough it out for a day or two and then it’s over.
Fact: Many people don’t know it, but some foodborne illnesses can actually lead to long-term health conditions, and 3,000 Americans a year die from foodborne illness.
Myth: It’s OK to thaw meat on the counter. Since it starts out frozen, bacteria isn’t really a problem.
Fact: Actually, bacteria grow surprisingly rapidly at room temperatures, so the counter is never a place you should thaw foods. Instead, thaw foods the right way in the refrigerator.
Myth: When cleaning my kitchen, the more bleach I use, the better. More bleach kills more bacteria, so it’s safer for my family.
Fact: There is actually no advantage to using more bleach than needed. To clean kitchen surfaces effectively, use just one teaspoon of liquid, unscented bleach to one quart of water.
Myth: I don’t need to wash fruits or vegetables if I’m going to peel them.
Fact: Because it’s easy to transfer bacteria from the peel or rind you’re cutting to the inside of your fruits and veggies, it’s important to wash all produce, even if you plan to peel it.
Myth: To get rid of any bacteria on my meat, poultry, or seafood, I should rinse off the juices with water first.
Fact: Actually, rinsing meat, poultry, or seafood with water can increase your chance of food poisoning by splashing juices (and any bacteria they might contain) onto your sink and counters. The best way to cook meat, poultry, or seafood safely is to make sure you cook it to the right temperature.
Myth: Leftovers are safe to eat until they smell bad.
Fact: The kinds of bacteria that cause food poisoning do not affect the look, smell, or taste of food. Times vary depending on the food – for example, deli meats should be used within 3-5 days; raw meat and poultry needs to be used within 1-2 days.
Myth: Marinades are acidic, which kills bacteria – so it’s OK to marinate foods on the counter.
Fact: Even in the presence of acidic marinade, bacteria can grow very rapidly at room temperatures. To marinate foods safely, it’s important to marinate them in the refrigerator.
Myth: If I really want my produce to be safe, I should wash fruits and veggies with soap or detergent before I use them.
Fact: In fact, it’s best not to use soaps or detergents on produce, since these products can linger on foods and are not safe for consumption. Using clean running water is actually the best way to remove bacteria and wash produce safely.
Marianne Carter is a registered dietitian and certified health educator. She’s the director of the Delaware Center for Health Promotion at Delaware State University.
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