Minnesota’s bad year of Salmonella, great year of surveillance
Source : http://barfblog.com/2016/02/minnesotas-bad-year-of-salmonella-great-year-of-surveillance/
By Doug Powell (Feb 28, 2016)
In 2015, Minnesota counted 973 people with state-confirmed Salmonella, the most since health officials started tracking in the early 1990s. Cases were up 35 percent over 2014, according to the Minnesota Department of Health, with 115 people affected by the outbreak linked to Chipotle.
“It was a huge outbreak, the biggest salmonella outbreak [in this state] since 1994,” said Kirk Smith, the health department’s head of foodborne disease investigations.
The Chipotle case, along with a huge national outbreak last year involving cucumbers, highlights a growing problem: the spread of foodborne disease through produce.
Tomatoes connected to the Chipotle outbreak were traced back to a farm in Virginia, a big tomato-growing area linked to several salmonella outbreaks in the past 15 years.
Chipotle, hit by a series of foodborne illness outbreaks last year, did not return calls for comment.
Chipotle was cooperative in Minnesota’s investigation, Smith said, and analyzed its own supply chain data to determine that tomatoes linked to the outbreak likely came from a farm in Virginia.
According to the health department, the tomatoes were sold by Lipman Produce, an Immokalee, Fla.-based company that on its website bills itself as North America’s largest open field tomato grower.
Lipman’s CEO didn’t respond to requests for comment, but in a response to a lawsuit, the company denied that it was the source of the outbreak in Minnesota.
The Virginia tomatoes were sold to a produce wholesaler that packed or repacked them, and then moved on to a distributor that delivered them to Chipotle. Where exactly the tomatoes were tainted has not been identified, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says it’s investigating.
Smith and other foodborne illness experts say contamination of produce usually occurs in unsanitary packing houses or in the fields, particularly through contaminated water.
From 1990 to 2010, there were 15 multistate salmonella outbreaks linked to raw tomatoes; four were traced to farms or packing houses in Virginia.
Virginia’s tomato industry is centered on its eastern shore, a peninsula framed by Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. Its gull and geese populations have been fingered as possible carriers of salmonella, as have chicken farms and processors to the north.
Whatever the reason, surface water and sediment in the area appear to be “long-term reservoirs of persistent and endemic contamination of this environment,” according to a study published last year in Frontiers in Microbiology.
The largest U.S. foodborne incident in 2015 was a Salmonella Poona outbreak that sickened 888 people nationwide, killing six. That outbreak included 43 illnesses in Minnesota, though no deaths.
The culprit: cucumbers imported from Mexico. It was the third significant U.S. outbreak of salmonella linked to cucumbers in three years.
Oregon oysters linked to norovirus outbreak sent to East Coast
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2016/02/oregon-oysters-linked-to-norovirus-outbreak-sent-to-east-coast/#.VtOlgU5umUl
By News Desk (Feb 27, 2016)
Oysters harvested from Yaquina Bay and sold raw to restaurants, retailers and direct to consumers by Oregon Oyster Farms Inc. are being recalled after at least 17 people who ate them recently contracted norovirus.
Health officials are concerned that consumers, retailers and restaurants may still have the oysters on hand because their sell-by dates range from Feb. 19 through March 8, according to a notice on the Oregon Health Authority website.
An unopened jug of Oregon Oyster Farms oysters collected from a restaurant tested positive for the same strain of norovirus found in stool samples from three of the outbreak victims.
Consumers who bought the recalled oysters from Oregon Oyster Farms Inc. are urged to discard them or return them to the place of purchase for a full refund. Consumers with questions may contact the company at 541-265-5078.
In addition to consumer sales at its on-site store in Newport, Oregon Oyster Farms sold the raw, ready-to-eat shucked oysters to restaurants and retailers in Oregon and to wholesalers in New York and Massachusetts.
The recalled raw, ready-to-eat shucked oysters are in half-gallon and one-pint plastic tubs and in 10-ounce plastic jars. The company also recalled its mesh bags containing five dozen in-shell oysters with harvest dates of Feb. 5 through Feb. 15. No other traceability codes were referenced in the recall notice.
“All 17 people, who were among three separate groups totaling 32 people who ate at restaurants throughout Lincoln County, have recovered,” according to a Feb. 24 statement from the Oregon Health Authority.
“One person had been hospitalized. Those who fell ill reported having eaten the oysters between Feb. 12 and Feb. 14.”
Investigators from the Oregon Health Authority’s Public Health Division, Lincoln County Health & Human Services and the Oregon Department of Agriculture, are working with the oyster company to determine the source of the contamination.
Emilio DeBess, state public health veterinarian with the Public Health Division’s Acute and Communicable Disease Prevention Section, said they are trying to confirm whether the contamination was more likely to have occurred in the oyster beds or at some point after harvest.
DeBess said consuming raw oysters is popular, but risky.
“You’re really taking your chances when you don’t cook oysters before you eat them,” he said in a news release.
“There’s risk of not only contracting norovirus, but also more serious infections such as Vibrio, which causes vibriosis. Our recommendation is that people avoid eating oysters or any shellfish unless they’re cooked thoroughly, especially individuals who are immune compromised, elderly, or children.”
Norovirus is the most common cause of outbreaks of foodborne disease in Oregon and the United States, according to the Oregon department. In 24-48 hours after exposure, infected people typically develop vomiting and diarrhea that last a day or two.
The virus is present in the feces of infected persons for a couple of days after symptoms resolve. For this reason, public health officials recommend that during an outbreak, affected persons remain home from school or work for 48 hours after symptoms resolve.
Norovirus is highly contagious, and infected persons have enormous numbers of the virus in their feces. It is spread readily from person to person, and alcohol hand gels do not kill the disease, so hand-washing with soap and water is extremely important.
As Outbreaks Unfold CDC Advises: To Safely Eat Sprouts, Cook Them
Source : https://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2016/as-outbreaks-unfold-cdc-advises-to-safely-eat-sprouts-cook-them/
By Carla Gillespie (Feb 27, 2016)
As two ongoing multistate outbreaks linked to alfalfa sprouts unfold, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises that the safest way to consume sprouts is to cook them. Sprouts are a known source of food poisoning that have been the source of more than 40 outbreaks over the last 20 years, causing 2,405 illnesses, 171 hospitalizations, and three deaths federal health officials say.
Currently there are two outbreaks linked to alfalfa sprouts. One is a Salmonella outbreak linked to sprouts produced by Sweetwater Farms in Kansas that sickened 13 people in Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri and Pennsylvania hospitalizing five of them. The other is an E.coli outbreak linked to sprouts produced by Jack and the Green Sprouts of River Falls, Wis. which has sickened nine people in Minnesota and Wisconsin hospitalizing two. Consumers who have purchased sprouts linked to either outbreak should not eat them.
A quick tally of sprouts recalls Food Poisoning Bulletin has documented in recent years shows there were at least six recalls in 2015, three in 2014 (sprouts produced by Wonton Foods were linked to a Salmonella outbreak that year that sickened 115 people in 12 states but the company never issued a recall), once in 2013 and eight times in 2012. Also in 2012, Kroger, one of the nation’s largest grocery retailers decided to stop selling sprouts because of the risk they pose.
In 2014, there were three “sproutbreaks” each caused by a different pathogen. A Salmonella Enteritidis outbreak sickened 115 people in 12 states, an E.coli O121 outbreak sickened 19 people in six states and a two-state Listeria outbreak killed two people and sickened three others.
In 2012, an E. coli O26 outbreak linked to clover sprouts served at Jimmy John’s sickened 29 people in 11 states. And in 2011, another Salmonella Enteritidis sprout break occured sickening 25 people in four states.
In 2010, there were two multistate sproutbreaks. One, caused by Salmonella serotype I 4,,12:i:- sickened 140 people in 26 states. The other, caused by Salmonella Newport, sickened 44 people in 11 states. And in 2009, a Salmonella St Paul outbreak sickened 235 people in 14 states.
Why are sprouts such a common source of food poisoning?
The growing conditions. Warm, humid environments with nutrient-rich soils are the ideal growing conditions for sprouts. And for bacteria.
To prevent contamination, growers are supposed to take measures to prevent bacteria from entering the growing area such as treating seeds, testing irrigation water, testing for Listeria and taking corrective actions if any samples are positive. But plenty of contaminated sprouts are still making there way to the market, so how can consumers protect themselves?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that children, older adults, pregnant women, and those with weakened immune systems avoid eating raw sprouts of any kind. This includes alfalfa, clover, radish, and mung bean sprouts.
Cooking sprouts kills pathogens and is the best way for all consumers to reduce their risk of food poisoning. When dining out, don’t order foods with raw sprouts or ask if they can be removed from menu items of interest.
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The Current Dole Lettuce Listeria Outbreak and a Bit of History
Source : http://www.foodpoisonjournal.com/food-poisoning-information/the-current-dole-lettuce-listeria-outbreak-and-a-bit-of-history/#.VtOlTE5umUl
By Andy Weisbecker (Feb 26, 2016)
In the United Sates, eighteen people infected with the outbreak strain of Listeria have been reported from nine states since July 5, 2015. The number of ill people reported from each state is as follows: Connecticut (1), Indiana (1), Massachusetts (1), Michigan (4), Missouri (2), New Jersey (1), New York (5), Ohio (2), and Pennsylvania (1). Whole genome sequencing has been performed on clinical isolates from all ill people and has shown that the isolates are highly related genetically. Listeria specimens were collected from ill people between July 5, 2015 and January 31, 2016. Ill people range in age from 3 years to 83, and the median age is 66. Seventy-two percent of ill people are female. All 18 (100%) ill people were hospitalized, including one person from Michigan who died as a result of listeriosis. One of the illnesses reported was in a pregnant woman.
In Canada, there are currently 11 cases of Listeria in five provinces related to this outbreak: Ontario (7), Quebec (1), New Brunswick (1), Prince Edward Island (1), and Newfoundland and Labrador (1). Individuals became sick between May 2015 and early January 2016. Some of the individuals who became ill have reported eating packaged salads. It is suspected that these salads were produced at the Dole facility in Ohio. The majority of Canadians cases (55%) are female, with an average age of 79 years. All cases have been hospitalized, and three people have died.
On January 27, 2016, Dole voluntarily recalled all salad mixes produced in the Springfield, Ohio processing facility. At this time, there is no evidence to suggest that any products produced at other Dole processing facilities in the United States are linked to illness. The type of salad mixes produced at this facility was packaged in bags and plastic clamshell containers and can be identified by the letter “A” at the beginning of the manufacturing code on the package.
Prior Dole Outbreaks Linked to Lettuce and Other Leafy Greens
October 13, 2015 – Dole Fresh Vegetables voluntarily recalled a limited number of cases of bagged salad. The product recalled was Dole Spinach coded A27409B & A27409A, with an Enjoy By date of October 15 and UPC 7143000976 due to a possible health risk from Salmonella. No illnesses had been reported in association with the recall. The product code and Enjoy By date are in the upper right-hand corner of the package; the UPC code is on the back of the package, below the barcode. The salads were distributed in 13 U.S. states (Connecticut, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Wisconsin). This precautionary recall notification is being issued due to an isolated instance in which a sample of Dole Spinach salad yielded a positive result for Salmonella in a random sample test conducted by the Michigan Department of Agriculture & Rural Development; Laboratory Division.
March 13, 2014 – Dole Fresh Vegetables voluntarily recalled a limited number of cases of bagged salad. The products being recalled are Dole Italian Blend (UPC 7143000819), Fresh Selections Italian Style Blend (UPC 1111091045), Little Salad Bar Italian Salad (UPC 4149811014) and Marketside Italian Style Salad (UPC 8113102780) coded A058201A or B, with Use-by date of March 12, 2014 due to a possible health risk from Listeria monocytogenes. No illnesses had been reported in association with the recall. The product code and Use-by date are in the upper right-hand corner of the package; the UPC code is on the back of the package, below the barcode. The salads were distributed in 15 U.S. states (Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Virginia) and 3 Canadian provinces (New Brunswick, Ontario & Quebec). No illnesses have been reported in association with the recall. This precautionary recall notification is being issued due one sample of Dole Italian salad which yielded a positive result for Listeria monocytogenes in a random sample test conducted by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.
August 22, 2012 – Dole Fresh Vegetables voluntarily recalled 1,039 cases of bagged salad. The product being recalled was 10 oz. Dole Italian Blend coded 0049N2202008, with a Use-By date of August 20 and UPC 7143000819 due to a possible health risk from Listeria monocytogenes. No illnesses had been reported in association with the recall. The product code and Use-By date are in the upper right-hand corner of the package; the UPC code is on the back of the package, below the barcode. The salads were distributed in eight U.S. states (Florida, Alabama, North Carolina, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Mississippi and Virginia). No illnesses have been reported in association with the recall. This recall notification is being issued due to an isolated instance in which a sample of Dole Italian Blend salad yielded a positive result for Listeria monocytogenes in a random sample test conducted by the North Carolina Department of Agriculture.
June 22, 2012 – Dole Fresh Vegetables voluntarily recalled 1,077 cases of bagged salads. The products being recalled were Kroger Fresh Selections Greener Supreme coded N158 211B 1613 KR04 with Use-by date of June 19 and UPC 11110 91039, Kroger Fresh Selections Leafy Romaine coded N158 111B KR11 with Use-by date of June 19 and UPC 11110 91046 and WalMart Marketside Leafy Romaine coded N158111B with Use-by date of June19 and UPC code 81131 02781 due to a possible health risk from Listeria monocytogenes. No illnesses have been reported in association with the recall. The Product Code and Use-by date are in the upper right-hand corner of the package; the UPC code is on the back of the package, below the barcode. The salads were distributed in six U.S. states (Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia). This precautionary recall notification is being issued due to an isolated instance in which a sample of Marketside Leafy Romaine salad yielded a positive result for Listeria monocytogenes in a random sample test conducted by the State of North Carolina.
April 14, 2012 – Dole Fresh Vegetables voluntarily recalled 756 cases of DOLE® Seven Lettuces salad with Use-by Date of April 11, 2012, UPC code 71430 01057 and Product Codes 0577N089112A and 0577N089112B, due to a possible health risk from Salmonella. No illnesses had been reported in association with the recall. The Product Code and Use-by Date are in the upper right-hand corner of the package; the UPC code is on the back of the package, below the barcode. The salads were distributed in fifteen U.S. states (Alabama, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, and Wisconsin). This precautionary recall notification is being issued due to an isolated instance in which a sample of Seven Lettuces salad yielded a positive result for Salmonella in a random sample test collected and conducted by the State of New York.
Sept. 17, 2007 – Dole Fresh Vegetables, a division of Dole Food Company, Inc., today announced that it voluntarily recalled all salad bearing the label “Dole Hearts Delight” sold in the U.S. and Canada with a “best if used by (BIUB)” date of September 19, 2007, and a production code of “A24924A” or “A24924B” stamped on the package. The “best if use by (BIUB)” code date can be located in the upper right hand corner of the front of the bag. The salad was sold in plastic bags of 227 grams in Canada and one-half pound in the U.S., with UPC code 071430-01038. To date, Dole has received no reports that anyone has become sick from eating these products. The recall is occurring because a sample in a grocery store in Canada was found through random screening to contain E. coli O157:H7.
2006 Spinach E. coli Outbreak – 205 Sick with 5 Death: Official word of the spinach outbreak broke with the FDA’s announcement, on September 14, 2006, that a number of E. coli O157:H7 illnesses across the country “may be associated with the consumption of produce.” “Preliminary epidemiological evidence suggests,” the statement continued, “that bagged fresh spinach may be a possible cause of this outbreak.” By the date of the announcement, fifty cases had been reported to the CDC, including eight cases of hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) and one death. States reporting illness included Connecticut, Idaho, Indiana, Michigan, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, and Wisconsin. The much-publicized outbreak grew substantially over the next several days. By September 15, the FDA had confirmed 94 cases of illness, including fourteen cases of HUS and, sadly, one death. Recognizing the lethality of the developing outbreak, the FDA’s September 15 release warned people should “not eat fresh spinach or fresh spinach containing products.” Press Releases over the ensuing days announced steady growth in the number of people sickened, hospitalized, and with HUS as a result of the outbreak—109 cases from nineteen states by September 17, and 131 cases from twenty-one states just two days later. The latter statistic included 66 hospitalizations and twenty cases of HUS. Meanwhile, the FDA and CDC, in conjunction with local and state health agencies from across the country, worked feverishly to figure out the brand names associated with illness. Early statistical analysis suggested that many brands were implicated, but the spinach sold under the several brand names had all come from the Natural Selection Foods processing center in San Juan Batista, California. Accordingly, Natural Selection recalled all of its spinach products with “use by” dates from August 17 to October 1, 2006. The recall, of course, included Dole brand spinach. But further data and study ultimately narrowed the possible sources of the outbreak down to one brand of packaged greens: Dole. Though epidemiological evidence had already strongly linked Dole to the outbreak, the FDA found the proverbial “smoking gun” on September 20. The bag of Dole baby spinach had been purchased and consumed by an Albuquerque, New Mexico woman, and testing by the New Mexico State Health Department had confirmed that the product was contaminated with E. coli O157:H7 bearing the same genetic marker as the outbreak strain. The FDA announced the critical finding on September 21, 2006—also disclosing the “best by” date on the positive Dole bag of August 30—thereby giving a worried public a bit more information on what spinach products to eat, if any, and what to avoid. By the date of the FDA’s September 21 announcement, the number of confirmed cases had swelled to 157 people from twenty-three states. Ultimately, the FDA confirmed 204 outbreak-related cases, with 102 hospitalizations, thirty-one cases of HUS, and three deaths, though the actual number of people affected by the outbreak was certainly much larger. In addition to the elderly Wisconsin resident, the FDA stated that the outbreak had claimed the lives of two-year-old Kyle Algood, from Chubbuck, Idaho, and also 81-year-old Ruby Trautz, from Bellevue, Nebraska. The tragedy of this outbreak can hardly be overstated. Epidemiological and laboratory evidence, which had already proved the link to Natural Selection and Dole, soon revealed that the contaminated spinach had been grown at Paicines Ranch in San Benito County, California. More specifically, investigators had traced the source of the contaminated spinach to one field on the ranch that had been leased by Mission Organics. Once identified as the likely source for the outbreak, Mission Organics became host to health officials looking for the outbreak strain of E. coli O157:H7. State and federal investigators took hundreds of environmental samples and swabs from the vicinity of the implicated spinach field, which was fifty acres in size, including from a nearby cattle pasture and water source. Investigators also sampled the intestinal lining of feral pigs that had been killed as part of the investigation. Samples from a variety of sources, including the pigs, the water, and cattle feces, tested positive for the same strain of E. coli O157:H7 that had now been isolated in over 205 people nationally. Finally, the outbreak strain of E. coli O157:H7 has been isolated in at least thirteen separate bags of Dole baby spinach. There were five deaths. Once the investigation was completed, a final report on the outbreak was prepared by the California Food Emergency Response Team (CalFERT), a team comprised of members from the FDA and the California Department of Health Services. The Final Report is replete with facts damning of all those involved in the growing, harvesting, processing, distribution, and sale of the implicated spinach products. For example, speaking of the NSF processing facility, it states: During the production week from August 14-19, 2006, the NSF South facility had the highest weekly production volume of the month. Between August 13-20, 2006 production email exchanges revealed a string of personnel shortages, including nine absent employees on Sunday, August 13, the date of the weekly extended sanitation shift. Personnel records reveal that a number of absences were due to illness or illness in the family…NSF did not conduct ATP testing on a daily basis as required by the firm’s SOP. No ATP testing was conducted from August 15-25, 2006. One ATP test collected from a scale vibrator failed on August 10, 2006, and no retest was documented. The Final Report also faulted with NSF’s procedures for monitoring the quality of processing-water, its record-keeping, and its inability to demonstrate that harvesting bins were being washed to prevent cross-contamination. As for the Mission Organics growing operation, the findings were even more disturbing. The Final Report found that the land on the ranch where the spinach was grown “was primarily utilized for cattle grazing.” Moreover: Investigators observed evidence of wild pigs in and around the cattle pastures as well as in the row crop growing regions of the ranch….Potential environmental risk factors for E. coli O157:H7 contamination identified during this investigation included the presence of the wild pigs in and around spinach fields and the proximity of irrigation wells used for ready-to-eat produce to surface waterways exposed to feces from cattle and wildlife.
2005 Lettuce E. coli Outbreak – 32 Sick: On September 22, 2005 the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) Public Health Laboratory (PHL) received an E. coli O157:H7 isolate for confirmatory testing and Pulse Field Gel Electrophoresis (PFGE) subtyping. PFGE results were reported on September 26 and uploaded to PulseNet, a national database of PFGE patterns or “fingerprints” maintained at the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The pattern derived from digestion with the restriction endonuclease Xba I was assigned Pattern number EXHX01.0238. The isolate was soon tested with a second enzyme, Bln I, and the resulting pattern was assigned pattern number EXHA26.1040. Prior to September 19, the Bln I pattern had not been posted on PulseNet. Isolates obtained from culture of stool submitted by two new ill patients were received at the MDH PHL on September 23, 2005 and subtyped. PFGE results showed that the two new isolates and the isolate received on September 22 were indistinguishable by two enzymes. By September 29, 2005 isolates obtained from seven more patients arrived at the MDH PHL for further analysis. Public health investigators recognized that an E. coli O157:H7 outbreak was underway in Minnesota. While laboratory testing was performed, MDH epidemiologists conducted preliminary interviews with patients who were laboratory confirmed with E. coli O157:H7. On the morning of September 28 investigators had identified pre-packaged lettuce produced by Dole Food Company, Inc. as the likely vehicle of transmission for infection with E. coli O157:H7. A supplemental questionnaire focusing on the type and brand of lettuce consumed and where it was purchased, was developed and administered to case-patients previously interviewed and newly identified cases. On September 29 Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) staff collected a bag of Dole lettuce at the home of a case patient and began microbiologic testing for the presence of E. coli O157:H7. On September 30 the MDH issued a press release advising the public that 11 cases of E. coli O157:H7 had been identified in Minnesota residents who had eaten Dole lettuce purchased from at least four different stores in the Twin Cities area. Persons with symptoms of E. coli were told to contact the MDH and their physician. Dr. Chris Braden at the Foodborne and Diarrheal Disease Branch at the CDC announced that no other states were reporting outbreak associated cases. Meanwhile MDA microbiologists continued to process lettuce specimens obtained from households with cases of confirmed E. coli O157:H7. On Monday, October 3 the agency reported that sample number M-05-2310, Lot Number B250215B received on September 30 had tested positive for E. coli O157:H7. The isolate obtained from the sample was sent to the MDH for PFGE analysis. The resulting pattern was indistinguishable to the pattern identified in case-patients. A second specimen, M-05-2318, lot number unavailable, would also yield positive results. News of the positive lettuce specimen prompted the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to issue a nationwide health alert regarding Dole pre-packaged salads on October 2. The FDA announcement reiterated warnings expressed in the MDH press release and further described the Dole products associated with illness, Classic Romaine, American Blend, and Greener Selection. Although cases had only been identified in Minnesota, the product was noted to have been distributed nationwide. It would not be long before cases of E. coli O157:H7 in Wisconsin and Oregon would be recognized. The Wisconsin case was a 12 year old female with E. coli O157:H7 who had a history of eating Dole pre-packaged lettuce. PFGE subtyping showed that her isolate was indistinguishable to the EXHX01.0238 pattern and one band different on the second enzyme pattern. Despite the one band difference, MDH molecular epidemiologists considered the girl to be part of the outbreak concluding that the difference was not enough to preclude the case from being considered outbreak related. The Oregon case was indisputably associated with consumption of Dole pre-packaged salad mix. A 60 year old Portland resident was hospitalized and laboratory confirmed with E. coli O157:H7 on September 21, 2005. The patient had experienced onset of symptoms on September 18, four days after purchasing and consuming Dole brand “Classic Romaine” salad mix. Michael Roberson, representative for Albertsons’, the grocery store of purchase, confirmed that the chain’s Portland area distributing center had received Dole Greener Selection and Dole Classic Romaine. A portion of the salad mix was still in the patient’s refrigerator. A photograph taken of the packaging documents that Ms. Scheetz purchased Dole salad mix with a “Best if Used By” date of 9/23/05, lot number was B250215B. PFGE subtyping showed that the Oregon isolate was indistinguishable by two enzymes to other ill Dole lettuce consumers in Minnesota. Aware of the potential severity of an E. coli O157:H7 outbreak, the FDA and the Food and Drug Branch at the California Department of Health Services initiated an investigation at the Dole processing plant. Preliminary information indicated that 22,321 cases of Dole pre-packaged lettuce with a “Best If Used By” date of 9/23/05 and a production code starting with “B250” were shipped from a single Dole processing facility in central California to 34 states in early September. Investigators estimated that since each case contained between 6 and 12 bags, approximately 244,866 bags of lettuce had made it to market. On October 11, 2005 the MDH counted 23 laboratory confirmed cases of E. coli O157:H7 and seven epidemiologically linked cases. Illness onset dates ranged from September 16 to September 30. Two cases had developed Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS). Oregon and Wisconsin reported one case each. Case control study data show a statistically significant association between illness and consuming Dole pre-packaged lettuce with a matched odds ratio of 6.8, 95% confidence interval, 1.4-31.9, and a p-value of 0.01. The California Department of Health Services continues to conduct a trace back investigation to farms implicated in earlier lettuce outbreaks. A final outbreak report and traceback summary has not been provided. Eventually, a total of 32 persons from three states would be linked to the E. coli O157:H7 outbreak.
Salmonella in Sprouts Sickens Five in Kansas
Source : https://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2016/salmonella-in-sprouts-sickens-five-in-kansas/
By Carla Gillespie (Feb 25, 2016)
Five people in Kansas are part of Salmonella outbreak linked to alfalfa sprouts from Sweetwater Farms in Inman, Kansas. Consumers who have purchased these sprouts should not eat them as Salmonella can cause serious illness.
The outbreak also incldues three illnesses in Missouri, three illnesses in Oklahoma and two illnesses in Pennsylvania. Five of those sickened, who range in age from 18 to 73, have been hospitalized.
Health officials used DNA “fingerprinting” tests to identify a total of 13 people infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Muenchen. During interviews with health officials, those sickened reported eating sprouts or menu items containing sprouts in the week before becoming ill. Nine of them reported eating alfalfa sprouts. One of them identified Sweetwater Farms as the brand of sprouts they purchased from a grocery store and ate before becoming ill.
During the interviews, five restaurants were named by those sickened as the place of purchase for menu items containing sprouts. Traceback investigations from these restaurants revealed that Sweetwater Farms supplied alfalfa sprouts to all five locations. Sweetwater Farms has recalled lot 042016 of alfalfa sprouts voluntarily.
Symptoms of a Salmonella infection, which include nausea, vomiting and diarrhea that can be bloody, usually develop within six to 72 hours of exposure and last about a week. For some people the diarrhea and vomiting can be so severe it causes dehydration, and hospitalization is required. If the infection travels from the gastrointestinal tract to the bloodstream more serious, life-threatening complications can occur. Anyone who developed these symptoms after eating these sprouts should contact a doctor and mention exposure to Salmonella.
This outbreak is occurring at the same time an E. coli outbreak linked to contaminated alfalfa sprouts produced by Jack & the Green Sprout has sickened seven people in Minnesota and two in Wisconsin.
The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) has a section devoted to sprouts because of the “unique risk” the present. The growing conditions for sprouts are also the ideal conditions for growing bacteria.
There have been more than 30 “sproutbreaks” or outbreaks of illness linked to sprouts contaminated with Salmonella, Listeria, E. coli and other pathogens, since 1996. They are also frequently recalled.
In 2012, Kroger, one of the nation’s largest grocery retailers, decided to stop selling sprouts because of the risk they pose. There were seven sprout recalls that year.
In 2014, sprouts were the source of two large multistate outbreaks. One of them, a Salmonella outbreak linked to Wonton Foods bean sprouts, sickened 111 people in 12 states. About a quarter of those sickened were hospitalized. Another, was an E. coli 0121 outbreak linked to raw clover sprouts that sickened 19 people in 6 states. That outbreak was linked to Evergreen Fresh Sprouts of Idaho.
Because of the damp environment required to grow sprouts, it is difficult to control for bacteria. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that children, seniors, pregnant women, and those with weakened immune systems avoid eating raw sprouts of any kind and that others thoroughly cook sprouts before eating them. To see FoodSafety.gov’s fact sheet on sprouts click here.
Here’s How Restaurants Can Reduce Zika Virus Infections
Source : http://www.foodsafetymagazine.com/news/heree28099s-how-restaurants-can-reduce-zika-virus-infections/
By Staff (Feb 25, 2016)
The Zika virus is transmitted to people who are bitten by an infected Aedes species mosquito. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), those most at risk include anyone who lives in or travels to an area where the Zika virus has been found, and anyone who has not been previously infected with the virus.
But what does a mosquito-borne infection have to do with food safety?
Restaurants operating in Zika-impacted regions of Central and South America, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and American Samoa can work closely with local officials to reduce the risk of Zika virus infection by doing the following:
Educate staff members about risk factors: The mosquito that can carry the Zika virus is a daytime biter. Other mosquitoes that carry different diseases are nighttime biters, so we need to be diligent all the time.
Reduce staff and customer exposure to mosquito bites: Staff who are serving customers outside should consider wearing long sleeves and pants and use an appropriate (mosquito) insect repellant. The use of window and door screens is also recommended.
Eliminate breeding grounds: Mosquitos are known to breed near any source of standing (fresh) water. To help reduce the number of mosquitos inside and outside buildings, empty standing water from containers such as flower pots, or buckets, even old tires and trash. Consider a community-wide effort to remove trash from streets and vacant lots, as small amounts of standing water in trash can serve as breeding grounds for mosquitoes.
Since Zika is still a health issue that the public does not know a lot about, it is suggested that consumers follow the official advice of local health authorities, along with information passed down by the CDC.
This article was written using information provided by John Hanlin of Ecolab.
Steaming hot: Campylobacter reduction in UK
Source : http://barfblog.com/2016/02/steaming-hot-campylobacter-reduction-in-uk/
By Doug Powell (Feb 25, 2016)
Still no mention of thermometers which makes this Agency not so-science based.
The Food Standards Agency reports results for the second quarter of testing, from October to December 2015, continue to show a decrease in the number of birds with the highest level of contamination from the same months last year. These most heavily contaminated birds, carrying more than 1,000 colony forming units per gram (cfu/g), are the focus of the current target agreed by industry, which is equivalent to no more than 7% of chickens at retail having the highest levels of contamination. Research has shown that reducing the proportion of birds in this category will have the biggest positive impact on public health.
The latest data show 11% of chickens tested positive for the highest level of contamination, down from 19% in October to December 2014. Campylobacter was present on 59% of chicken samples, down from 74% in the same months of the previous year.
In this second quarter of the FSA’s second survey, 966 samples of fresh whole chilled UK-produced chickens and packaging have been tested. The chickens were bought from large UK retail outlets and smaller independent stores and butchers. The survey commenced sampling in July 2015.
The data continue to show an improvement from the previous year. Interventions, including improved biosecurity, SonoSteam, and the trimming of neck skins, introduced by some retailers to reduce levels of campylobacter, may be helping to deliver the improved results. The trimming of the neck skin, the most highly contaminated skin area, means chickens are carrying less campylobacter. The results of this intervention, while making chickens safer, mean comparisons to the first year’s survey may potentially be more difficult in future quarters as most samples from the previous year will have analysed more neck skin. The FSA will review the impact of this successful intervention to ensure the survey results remain robust.
The FSA has been testing chickens for campylobacter since February 2014 and publishing the results as part of its campaign to bring together the whole chicken supply chain to tackle the problem. Campylobacter is the most common cause of food poisoning in the UK, making an estimated 280,000 people ill every year.
The FSA is pressing the industry to play its part in reducing the levels of campylobacter contamination at each production stage to as low a level as possible before raw chicken reaches the consumer. Chicken is safe as long as consumers follow good kitchen practice:
Cover and chill raw chicken: Cover raw chicken and store on the bottom shelf of the fridge so juices cannot drip on to other foods and contaminate them with food poisoning bacteria such as Campylobacter.
Don’t wash raw chicken: Cooking will kill any bacteria present, including Campylobacter, while washing chicken can spread germs by splashing.
Wash hands and used utensils: Thoroughly wash and clean all utensils, chopping boards and surfaces used to prepare raw chicken. Wash hands thoroughly with soap and warm water, after handling raw chicken. This helps stop the spread of Campylobacter by avoiding cross contamination.
Cook chicken thoroughly: Make sure chicken is steaming hot all the way through before serving. Cut in to the thickest part of the meat and check that it is steaming hot with no pink meat and that the juices run clear.
Year 2 of a UK-wide survey of campylobacter contamination on fresh chickens at retail (July 2015 to July 2016)
This 12-month survey investigates the prevalence and levels of campylobacter contamination on fresh whole chilled chickens and their packaging. The survey aims to examine more than 4,000 samples of whole chickens bought from UK retail outlets and smaller independent stores and butchers. The two sets of results from quarter 1 and 2 (sampling period July to December 2015) are available.
Jack & The Green Sprouts Linked to E. coli Outbreak in Minnesota and Wisconsin
Source : http://www.foodpoisonjournal.com/foodborne-illness-outbreaks/18174/#.VtOp1U5umUl
By Drew Falkenstein (Feb 24, 2016)
State health and agriculture officials are investigating an outbreak of foodborne illness associated with alfalfa sprouts produced by Jack & The Green Sprouts. Retailers and restaurants should not sell or serve alfalfa sprouts produced by Jack & The Green Sprouts, and consumers should not eat them at this time.
Routine disease monitoring by the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) identified seven E. coli O157:NM cases in January and early February; E. coli bacteria from those cases all had the same DNA fingerprint. The ill individuals range in age from 18 to 84 years, and five are female. Four of the cases are residents of the Twin Cities metro area, and three live in greater Minnesota. Two were hospitalized, and both have recovered.
Two additional cases of E. coli O157 infection, considered part of this outbreak, were identified by the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (WDHS) in Wisconsin residents. Neither case was hospitalized.
Minnesota officials are working with investigators at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), WDHS, and the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (WIDATCP). Jack & The Green Sprouts is located in River Falls, Wis., and distributes alfalfa sprouts to states in the upper Midwest and possibly other states. The seven Minnesota cases and at least one of the Wisconsin cases were exposed to implicated alfalfa sprouts from a variety of locations, including grocery/cooperative stores, restaurants, salad bars and commercial food service.
This is an ongoing investigation, and the extent of the product contamination is unknown. Based on the information collected to date, health officials recommend not eating any alfalfa sprouts produced by Jack & The Green Sprouts. Currently, there is no evidence that other products produced by Jack & The Green Sprouts are contaminated.
Jack & The Green Sprouts alfalfa sprouts may be packaged in a plastic clamshell with a brightly colored round label on top that notes the sprout variety. The alfalfa sprouts may be mixed in the same package with other sprout varieties.
The FDA is working with state officials to collect samples and determine the source of the outbreak. State officials urge consumers not to eat alfalfa sprouts produced by Jack & The Green Sprouts and retailers and restaurants not to sell or serve them. More information will become available as the investigation proceeds.
Sprouts are a known source of foodborne illness. Children, the elderly, pregnant women and persons with weakened immune systems should avoid eating raw sprouts of any kind (including alfalfa, clover, radish and mung bean sprouts). You can reduce your risk of illness by requesting that raw sprouts not be added to your food.
Symptoms of illness caused by E. coli O157 typically include stomach cramps and diarrhea, often with bloody stools, but only a low-grade or no fever. People typically become ill two to five days after exposure, but this period can range from one to eight days. Most people recover in five to 10 days. However, E. coli O157 infections sometimes lead to a serious complication called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), which can cause kidney failure and other severe problems, including death. Those most at risk of developing complications from E. coli O157 include children younger than 10, the elderly, and those with weakened immune systems.
Diarrhea associated with E. coli O157 infections should NOT be treated with antibiotics, as this practice might promote the development of HUS. Anyone who believes they may have developed an E. coli O157 infection should contact their health care provider.
Marler Clark, The Food Safety Law Firm, is the nation’s leading law firm representing victims of E. coli outbreaks and hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). The E. coli lawyers of Marler Clark have represented thousands of victims of E. coli and other foodborne illness infections 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 E. coli lawyers have litigated E. coli and HUS cases stemming from outbreaks traced to ground beef, raw milk, lettuce, spinach, sprouts, and other food products. The law firm has brought E. coli lawsuits against such companies as Jack in the Box, Dole, ConAgra, Cargill, and Jimmy John’s. We have proudly represented such victims as Brianne Kiner, Stephanie Smith and Linda Rivera.
If you or a family member became ill with an E. coli infection or HUS after consuming food and you’re interested in pursuing a legal claim, contact the Marler Clark E. coli attorneys for a free case evaluation.
USFDA to visit India to discuss new law on food safety, hopes for productive conversations
Source : http://www.dnaindia.com/money/report-usfda-to-visit-india-to-discuss-new-law-on-food-safety-hopes-for-productive-conversations-2181797
By (Feb 24, 2016)
The US Food and Drug Administration officials are visiting India to discuss the new law on food safety with the Indian government and industry stakeholders.
The US food and drug regulator is conducting a series of trips abroad including India to update government and industry stakeholders on the bipartisan and landmark FDA Food Safety Modernisation Act, (FSMA), its most sweeping reform to food safety system in 70 years.
"India is of particular importance to the FDA because it is the seventh largest supplier of food to the US. FDA values its partnership with India as US - India continue to advance their ability to prevent food-borne illnesses and enhance the safety of the food supply in both countries," FDA Deputy Commissioner Howard Sklamberg told reporters here.
"We have come here to speak with Indian government regulators and industry stakeholders about the FSMA. This follows a visit eleven months ago, when we signed a MoU with the Centre in order to develop opportunities for cooperative engagement in regulatory and technical matters related to food products, Sklamberg said.
India exports $4 billion worth agri, spices and sea food exports to US every year.
"Our office (in India)(is) engaged in technical workshops with Indian regulators, where we engaged in training on food and drug related issues and inspections techniques, good manufacturing practises and the detection of data integrity issues," he added.
FNMA mandates a food safety system that is preventive rather than reactive, and in which foreign food producers are held to the same safety standards as our domestic farmers and food companies.
FSMA is our food safety system in 70 years and we are committed to working with our international partners, as well as consumers and industry, to implement the law in a timely and efficient manner, he added.
Under FSMA's new import safety system, importers in the US are made accountable to US FDA for verifying that their foreign suppliers are using methods to prevent food safety problems that provide the same level of public health protection as those used by their US counterparts.
Under FSMA, this new accountability for importers will be backed up by more overseas inspections by FDA and crucial for the purposes of this trip to India, more active partnership with our foreign government counterparts and with industry stakeholders, he said.
Jack & The Green sprouts linked to E. coli outbreak may still be in stores
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2016/02/jack-the-greens-sprouts-linked-to-e-coli-outbreak-may-still-be-in-stores/#.VtOnz05umUl
By Coral Beach (Feb 24, 2016)
Health officials in Wisconsin and Minnesota are warning people to avoid eating fresh alfalfa sprouts from Jack & The Green Sprouts because they have been linked to an E. coli outbreak that has sickened at least nine people.
The most recent illness began Feb. 1, but an epidemiologist with the Minnesota Department of Health said late this afternoon that officials believe the alfalfa sprouts from Jack & The Green Sprouts are still available at retail.
“Sprouts have a longer shelf life than you might expect,” said Amy Saupe, foodborne illness epidemiologist. “We re concerned that these alfalfa sprouts may still be out there in stores or people’s homes.”
Saupe said DNA tests show all nine people — seven in Minnesota and two in Wisconsin — were infected with the same strain of E. coli. Two in Minnesota required hospitalization, but all have recovered, according to state officials.s
“The seven Minnesota cases and at least one of the Wisconsin cases were exposed to implicated alfalfa sprouts from a variety of locations, including grocery/cooperative stores, restaurants, salad bars and commercial food service,” according to the warning from Minnesota’s health department.
Health officials are concerned that the outbreak may be more widespread because Jack & The Green Sprouts, River Falls, WI, distributes its sprouts to states in the upper Midwest “and possibly other states.”
No one from Jack & The Green Sprouts responded to a request for comments.
As of late this afternoon, the company had not issued a recall of the implicated sprouts, according to state officials. Federal investigators from the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are working with officials in Minnesota and Wisconsin.
The CDC’s PulseNet database is what allowed Minnesota and Wisconsin officials to determine that all nine of the outbreak victims were infected with identical E. coli.
Saupe said the Minnesota Health Department does daily reviews of reportable diseases, such as E. coli and other foodborne pathogens. When the lab sees positive tests for the same strain of a pathogen, it triggers an automatic investigation.
The implicated sprouts from Jack & The Green Sprouts may be packaged in plastic clamshells with brightly colored round labels on top that note the sprout variety. The alfalfa sprouts may be mixed in the same package with other sprout varieties.
The FDA is working with state officials to collect samples and determine the source of the outbreak. State officials urge consumers not to eat alfalfa sprouts produced by Jack & The Green Sprouts and retailers and restaurants not to sell or serve them. More information will become available as the investigation proceeds.
Sprouts are a known source of foodborne illness. Children, the elderly, pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems should avoid eating raw sprouts of any kind. You can reduce your risk of illness by requesting that raw sprouts not be added to your food, according to the CDC and state health officials.
Symptoms of illness caused by E. coli typically include stomach cramps and diarrhea, often with bloody stools, but only a low-grade fever or no fever. People typically become ill two to five days after exposure, but this period can range from one to eight days.
Most people recover in five to 10 days. However, E. coli infections sometimes lead to a serious complication called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), which can cause kidney failure and other severe problems, including death.
Diarrhea associated with E. coli infections should not be treated with antibiotics, as this practice might promote the development of HUS, according to the Minnesota health department.
Anyone who believes they may have developed an E. coli infection should contact their health care provider.
CFA Disappointed with Food Safety Funding Budget Request
Source : https://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2016/cfa-disappointed-with-food-safety-funding-budget-request/
By Linda Larsen (Feb 24, 2016)
The Consumer Federation of America (CFA) is disappointed with the President’s FY 17 budget request for food safety funding for the Food and Drug Administration, which proposes almost no new funding for food safety activities. Thomas Gremillion, Director of Food Policy at CFA said in a statement, “with the Food Safety Modernization Act, Congress recognized the need for FDA to implement a new system – one that prevents foodborne illness rather than reacting to it after the fact. FDA needs adequate funding to take on its new oversight responsibilities under FSMA. The President’s budget will mean more delay in implementing the law, which Americans will pay for in the form of avoidable hospitalizations and deaths caused by foodborne illness.”
FSMA passed through Congress in 2010. The FDA finalized the major rules under the law last year, and will begin enforcing new regulations later this year. Gremillion continued, “FDA will need to give a lot of technical assistance to growers, importers, and other regulated parties as it finally begins to apply new rules under FSMA this year. The agency needs to fund state and local partnerships to do this work. It needs to train and hire new inspectors. This budget falls far short of meeting those needs.”
In the years after FSMA was signed into law, the FDA had tried to get extensions for implementation of regulations and rules. In August of 2013, Federal Judge Phyllis Hamilton finally sided with the Center for Food Safety and told the FDA there could be no more delays.
Some of the rules finalized by the FDA include oversight of imported foods, requiring that anyone who imports food into the United States must verify that the supplier is using prevention-based food safety practices. This rule is important because several foodborne illness outbreaks over the past few years linked to imported foods have sickened hundreds of Americans, such as the Salmonella outbreak linked to raw scraped tuna imported from India that sickened 425 people in 28 states.
Another critical rule is the rule for produce safety, which was finally finalized in November 2015. This rule ensures that water used to irrigate farm fields is clean, and that workers practice good hygiene in the field and while packing produce. This rule may have made a difference in the deadly Listeria monocytogenes outbreak linked to Jensen Farms cantaloupe that sickened 147 people and may have led to the deaths of 33 people.
Rules covering good manufacturing practices and Hazard Analysis and Risk-Based Preventive Controls for Human Food cover compliance, feeds, inspections, and recalls. Traceback of contaminated food is crucial to stopping a foodborne illness outbreak when it occurs. The FDA established product tracing pilot program through the Institute of Food Technologies.
And another rule gives public officials the authority to detain contaminated and adulterated food. Before this rule was signed into law and finalized, FDA could only detain a food product when it had “credible evidence” that a food presented a threat of serious adverse reactions. Now, FDA can detain food if it believes that the food is adulterated or misbranded and keep the products out of the marketplace for 30 days while an investigation is launched.
E. coli O157:H7 on Leafy Greens? It’s the Cows
Source : https://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2016/e-coli-o157h7-on-leafy-greens-its-the-cows/
By Linda Larsen (Feb 23, 2016)
Most people are surprised when a food poisoning outbreak is linked to leafy greens. Fresh vegetables are not the foods we think of in relation to foodborne illness. But the fact remains that leafy greens are the most common vector for delivering pathogenic bacteria to humans.
Bacteria get onto leafy greens and other produce in several ways. They can be contaminated in the field by feces from birds and other animals. They can be contaminated in the field by poor worker hygiene. They can be contaminated in transport in dirty containers and trucks. They can be contaminated during processing if a facility doesn’t keep animals out, or if workers are sick. But there is one means of contamination that may be most troublesome: location of a farm field next to a cattle feedlot, as a study published in Applied and Environmental Microbiology showed.
Shiga toxin-producing E. coli bacteria occur naturally in ruminant animals such as cows. The animals do not get sick from this bacteria as humans do because we have different genes. The bacteria is excreted in feces and can find its way into ground water. When that ground water is used for irrigation, bacteria can be spread all over the crops.
But this study showed something else; the potential for airborne transmission of E. coli bacteria onto leafy greens fields. We know that bacteria can aerosolize and become airborne; that is why food safety experts tell consumers to never wash chickens or turkey before cooking them; this action can spread bacteria up to three feet away from the kitchen sink.
In the study, leafy greens were planted in nine plots located various distances from a cattle feedlot. Leafy greens and feedlot manure samples were collected six different times in each year, from June to September, which is the growing season.
Both E. coli O157:H7 and total E. coli bacteria were recovered from leafy greens at all distances from the feedlot – 60, 120, and 180 meters away. There was a decrease in contamination as the distance from the feedlot was increased. Interestingly, E. coli O157:H7 was not collected from air samples at any distance, but total E. coli was recovered from air samples at the feedlot edge and all plot distances.
These results suggest that “risk for airborne transport of E. coli O157:H7 from cattle production is increased when cattle pen surfaces are very dry and when this situation is combined with cattle management or cattle behaviors that generate airborne dust,” according to the study. Food safety guidelines published by the California Leafy Green Products Handler Marketing Agreement proposed an interim guidance distance of 120 meters, but those guidelines also acknowledge that there is little scientific data supporting this guidance.
The study authors did confirm that the E. coli O157:H7 found on the greens had the same pulsed field-gel electrophoresis (PFGE) pattern as the E. coli bacteria collected from the cattle feedlots, proving a direct link between the cattle feedlot and the field. And the authors acknowledge that other methods of transportation of the bacteria from the feedlot to the field could include pest fly species. The authors finish by stating that further work is needed to determine adequate buffer zone distances between fresh produce fields and cattle feedlots.
Hawaii’s macadamia nut industry faces Salmonella challenge
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2016/02/recalls-pose-challenge-to-hawaiis-macadamia-nut-crop/#.VtOoRk5umUl
By Cathy Siegner (Feb 23, 2016)
Captain Cook, HI — The Big Island features five volcanoes, black sand beaches and eight different climate zones. And, it produces world-famous Kona coffee and macadamia nuts.
“Mac” nuts, as they’re called here, are actually native to Australia. They were introduced to Hawaii in the late 1880s and gradually became an important export crop by the 1950s. The trees are evergreens, which can reach 30-40 feet in height.
The nuts are enclosed in a husk that splits open when mature, and they are typically manually harvested from the ground, and sometimes the tree. They are dried, husked, shelled and roasted, although some are dehydrated and sold as “raw.”
Hawaii annually produces about 50 million pounds of macadamia nuts, with nearly all of those coming from the Big Island, according to John Cross, president of the 53-member Hawaii Macadamia Nut Association. In addition to his association work, Cross helps to manage 1,200 acres of macadamia trees for the Hilo-based Edmund C. Olson Trust.
Mac nuts in shell with leavesLike most U.S. food producers these days, macadamia nuts growers and processors are focused on providing a safe commodity for consumers and complying with requirements of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FMSA). They are also concerned about recent macadamia nut-related recalls and are exploring ways to limit Salmonella on their product.
“I am sympathetic to this trend toward a raw food diet, but as an industry, we’ve got to figure out how to get a raw macadamia treated so it is contaminant-free,” Cross said recently.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) posted at least a dozen recalls in 2015 involving macadamia nuts, and another three have been announced so far in 2016. All of this year’s recalls to date involved nuts from Mahina Mele Farm south of Captain Cook. The farm also had a recall in August 2015 of one lot of macadamia nuts and nut butters due to potential Salmonella contamination.
Mahina Mele Farm’s first voluntary recall this year, on Jan. 21, involved three lots of macadamia nuts and nut butters distributed to retails stores in Alaska, California, Hawaii, Maryland and Virginia between Oct. 21 and Nov. 25, 2015. The second, on Feb. 3, 2016, expanded that initial recall and covered all lots currently on the market.
On Feb. 5, 2016, Living Tree Community Foods in Berkeley, CA, issued a recall of macadamia nuts and nut butters sold under its own label but supplied by Mahina Mele Farm. Those products were shipped from the company’s California facility between Dec. 11, 2015, and Feb. 3, 2016.
All three recalls targeted “raw” macadamia nuts, not roasted ones, and were prompted by FDA testing.
“It was a random sample that they took off the shelf, and we’ve been working with the FDA real closely for the last few weeks. There was no Salmonella found in my facility or in any of the nuts after that lot,” said Kollette Stith, who owns and operates the family farm with her husband, Jason Stith. “What we are assuming happened is that the temperature must have dropped in our dehydrators, so it must have gotten below 140 degrees.”
Stith said that Salmonella bacteria are killed if the nuts are held at 140 degrees F for at least 15 minutes. There were no alarms on the farm’s dehydrators at the time of the recalls, but she said they have since been installed when equipment was replaced.
After the recent recalls were announced, Cross issued a statement on behalf of his association members. The statement reads:
“All of the Hawaiian Macadamia Industry processors roast their macadamia nut kernel. No ‘raw’ kernel is sold into the market. The processors roast to the highest standards as dictated by Good Manufacturing Practices, (GMPs). This assures the buyers and consumers of roasted Hawaiian macadamia nuts the safest, healthiest, and best tasting nut possible.”
Ways to limit Salmonella
Roasting macadamia nuts — either in oil or by dry-roasting — will kill Salmonella, but not everyone wants them roasted. The challenge is how to safely limit pathogens and contaminants on the nuts without ruining the delicate flavor.
One method under consideration is PPO, propylene oxide gas, a chemical fumigant now being used to pasteurize almonds. Another is steam treatment, which is used on almonds sold under the organic label, as well as using radio waves and infrared heat processes.
“PPO will probably take care of that raw food supplier, but it will not take care of the raw food organic supplier. It’s a chemical. That’s where we have an issue. If you’re an organic grower, you do not have that option,” Cross said.
Harvesting from the ground
One factor that may make macadamia nuts more vulnerable to contamination is the method of harvest, said Aurora Saulo, professor and extension specialist in food technology at the College of Tropical Agriculture, University of Hawaii-Manoa.
“They let the macadamia nuts in their husk and shell fall on the ground before they are harvested, and that increases the risk because they are in contact with other foreign matter,” she said. “It has to be treated even before it’s shelled, so you can see how some of that contamination can come in.”
According to a 2012 report compiled for the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), outbreaks involving Salmonella and enterohemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC) have been linked to consumption of tree nuts.
“Significant evidence suggests that one source of contamination is the orchard itself. Many nuts are harvested directly from the orchard floor after being mechanically or hand shaken, cut from the tree by hand and then thrown to the ground, or allowed to fall naturally. This results in significant mixing of the nuts with soil and plant debris. Contaminants picked up at harvest may then be spread to the edible kernels before or during shelling. Moisture may also play a role in amplification of contaminants if the harvested and dry product is not protected from irrigation water or rainfall.”
At Mahina Mele Farm, Stith said Salmonella contamination could possibly occur from the presence of birds and geckos, but FDA took “hundreds of swabs” at her facility and got no positive test results. Consequently, she believes that the problem stemmed from the older dehydrators.
She also said that she does not support the idea of using PPO as a processing technique for macadamia nuts.
“I don’t need to pasteurize if I can just get them to temperature. I don’t really think that we need to adulterate our food any more,” Stith said, adding that a sample of each batch of the farm’s macadamia nuts is tested for safety before the lot is shipped out.
In an October 2015 presentation to HMNA members, Saulo noted that additional PPO trials are scheduled this fall, along with testing and validation of the roasting process. She said the trials will be done by researchers at Oregon State University and the University of California-Davis.
Macadamia nut growers and processors say they are trying to comply with applicable FSMA provisions, at least to the extent that they are currently understood on the state level.
Lynn Nakamura-Tengan, an Extension educator with UH-Manoa’s College of Tropical Agriculture, is part of a safety outreach team that recently made the rounds of the islands for informational sessions with growers. She said growers and processors need to know about water testing requirements and how to understand the results. She said they also need to learn manageable ways to apply good agricultural practices (GAPs) under FSMA.
“The challenge is getting them the detailed information that they want without knowing what FDA is thinking,” she said. “We want to respond to the growers and the growers want to meet their regulatory requirements, but our hands are kind of tied because we don’t want to make interpretations for FDA and then they come back with a different interpretation.”
Nakamura-Tengan added that once an approved FSMA curriculum is available from FDA, the state hopes to begin train-the-trainer sessions this fall with a full program launch planned in 2017 so growers will be able to get their GAP certificates of compliance.
Meanwhile, UH-Manoa Extension staff plan to restructure their self-help GAP resources for Hawaii’s growers.
Individual macadamia nut growers and processors in Hawaii are adapting to meet the challenges of producing a safe product. Mahina Mele Farm has installed new dehydrators with alarms that link to the owners’ phones so time and temperature can be more accurately monitored.
The Hawaii macadamia nut industry is exploring methods of post-harvest treatment so the risk of pathogens and other contaminants will be as low as possible.
Growers and processors are systematically testing their product and paying attention to federal and state regulations. However, they worry that FDA will require pasteurization of macadamia nuts before they may legally be sold into the marketplace, similar to what happened with almonds back in 2007.
There is also speculation that FDA may be focusing more attention on testing samples of macadamia and other tree nuts for pathogens given the increased number of recalls in the recent past. Whether the federal agency will ramp up regulations by requiring pasteurization is uncertain at this point. The FDA’s Honolulu office did not respond to requests for comment.
Saulo emphasized that adequate guidelines are already available and just need to be fully understood and consistently followed.
“It’s just a really different way of looking at food safety now,” she said. “Before, it was more reactive and you see something and react to it. Now it’s more planning and addressing the issues, and what are the controls you are going to do? It’s a different way of thinking.”
Book preview: ‘Food Safety in the Seafood Industry’
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2016/02/book-preview-food-safety-in-the-seafood-industry/#.VtOonE5umUl
By Dan Flynn (Feb 23, 2016)
Last year, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration wrote stern warning letters to about 60 U.S. seafood processors and fish importers. In carefully drafted American legalize, such warnings to those in the fish and fish products industry are almost always over failures to comply with seafood Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) regulations.
For FDA, seafood safety seems to be a game of Whac-A-Mole as the agency will work for weeks bringing one seafood processor into compliance. The seafood HACCP is suppose to address each species of fish and fish product being produced. And in a industry where fish fraud is rampart, just getting that part accomplished takes effort.
But it seems FDA never can get the seafood industry running on the straight and narrow because there is always another processor with problems popping up. It’s enough to make one think there must be a better way to get through to this stubborn sector.
A book being released today by Wiley-Blackwell just might be more effective in speaking to the seafood industry. Titled “Food Safety in the Seafood Industry: A Practical Guide for ISO 22000 and FSSC 22000 Implementation,” this book comes at the problem not through American legalize, but the more practical world of international standards.
The “FSSC 22000” is the Food Safety System Certification recognized by the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) based on the Geneva-based International Organization for Standardization or ISO. With currently 100+ Licensed Certification Bodies and over 1,500 auditors worldwide, our mission is to ensure consumer trust in the supply of safe food and drinks.
Lead author Nuno F. Soares is a doctoral student at the University of Minho, a public university in Portugal, He’s had the practical experience of a plant and quality control management before turing to his PhD work new solutions to improved food safety in glazed frozen fish.
The seafood industry will find the book useful in numerous ways. It is practical. For example in explaining that workers who exercise their functions with autonomy are viewed under the international standards as being in management. And top management has the “resources necessary to achieve food safety (both in terms of material resources and human resources.”
The authors including University of Minho facility members Christina M.A. Martin and Antonio A. Vicente, says seafood is one of the most traded commodities worldwide that needs to protect its supply chain. They seem committed to achieving such a goal. They ‘re asking readers to contact them after getting through with the book.
If they succeed in opening a worldwide discussion of seafood safety, it might even help to get more compliance with those seafood HACCP regulations. There might even come a day when there won’t be so many warning letters going out to seafood processors.
“Food Safety in the Seafood Industry: A Practical Guide for ISO 22000 and FSSC 22000 Implementation”
•Available where books are sold.
CDC: Salmonella in Alfalfa Spouts Sickens 13 in 4 States
Source : https://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2016/cdc-salmonella-in-alfalfa-spouts-sickens-13-in-4-states/
By Carla Gillespie (Feb 23, 2016) Leave a Comment
A Salmonella outbreak linked to alfalfa sprouts has sickened at least 13 people in four states, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Five people have been hospitalized.
Health officials have linked the illnesses to alfalfa sprouts produced by Sweetwater Farms has recalled lot 042016 voluntarily, according to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. State and federal health officials advise consumers not to eat and retailers not to sell or serve alfalfa sprouts from Sweetwater Farms.
Symptoms of a Salmonella infection, which include nausea, vomiting and diarrhea that can be bloody, usually develop within six to 72 hours of exposure and last about a week. For some people the diarrhea and vomiting can be so severe it causes dehydration, and hospitalization is required. If the infection travels from the gastrointestinal tract to the bloodstream more serious, life-threatening complications can occur.
Health officials have used DNA “fingerprinting” tests to identify 13 people in four states who have been infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Muenchen. Onset of illnesses dates range from December 1, 2015 to January 21, 2016.By state, the case count is as follows: Kansas (5), Missouri (3), Oklahoma (3), and Pennsylvania (2). Most of the case patients, who range in age from 18 years to 73 years old and have a median age of 51, are female.
During interviews with case patients, 10 of 12 people reported eating sprouts or menu items containing sprouts in the week before becoming ill. Nine of them reported eating alfalfa sprouts. One of them identified Sweetwater Farms as the brand of sprouts they purchased from a grocery store and ate before becoming ill.
Case patients consumed the tainted sprouts at five restaurants. Traceback investigations from these restaurants revealed that Sweetwater Farms supplied alfalfa sprouts to all five locations.
Lab tests on samples of irrigation water and alfalfa sprouts collected during a recent inspection at Sweetwater Farms were positive for Salmonella. Further testing is underway to determine the type of Salmonella and its DNA fingerprint.
In Kansas, where most of the illnesses have occurred, the Department of Health and Environment issued a February 19 warning to consumers about the sprouts.
Sprouts are a common source of illnesses. Since 1996, there have been more than 30 “sproutbreaks” or outbreaks of illness linked to sprouts contaminated with Salmonella, Listeria, E. coli and other pathogens. In 2014, sprouts were the source of two large multistate outbreaks. One of them, a Salmonella outbreak linked to Wonton Foods bean sprouts, sickened 111 people in 12 states. About a quarter of those sickened were hospitalized. Another, was an E. coli 0121 outbreak linked to raw clover sprouts that sickened 19 people in 6 states. That outbreak was linked to Evergreen Fresh Sprouts of Idaho.
Because of the damp environment required to grow sprouts it is difficult to control for bacteria. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that children, seniors, pregnant women, and those with weakened immune systems avoid eating raw sprouts of any kind and that others thoroughly cook sprouts before eating them. To see FoodSafety.gov’s fact sheet on sprouts click here.
Two die from apparent botulism; home canned foods fingered
Source : http://barfblog.com/2016/02/two-die-from-apparent-botulism-home-canned-foods-fingered/
By Ben Chapman (Feb 23, 2016)
There isn’t a whole lot of botulism in the U.S. every year, and not all of it is foodborne – infant and wound botulism is more common. Of the bot cases linked to food, canning low acid foods without a pressure canner is a common theme.
Last year over 20 folks in Ohio got sick after home canned potatoes were made into potato salad. Home canned carrots were also linked to a case in Ashe County, North Carolina.
Home canned stuff, if not preserved correctly, can lead to the devastating illness.
According to AP home canned foods may be linked to two tragic deaths in Moses Lake, Washington.
Health officials say two deaths in Washington state this month appear to be linked to botulism — apparently from home-canned foods.
The Grant County Health District said Friday the cause of the deaths has not been confirmed. The victims were in their 80s and lived together, but health officials say the disease can affect people of any age.
Do the math: Manage food waste with measurements
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2016/02/do-the-math-manage-food-waste-with-measurements/#.VtOo0E5umUl
By Megan Pellegrini (Feb 22, 2016)
Reducing food waste could boil down to a mathematical equation as software developers decipher details to help food producers, retailers and foodservice operators solve the problem with data.
The scope of the problem is clear, with Americans tossing out the equivalent of $165 billion in food every year, according to a report by the Natural Resources Defense Council.
This past fall, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced its plan to help businesses and consumers cut food waste in half by 2030. The plan is to educate consumers about food date labels and safe food storage, and to work with the private sector to reduce the amount of unused food sent to landfills.
Government data states that if Americans threw out just 15 percent less food, we could feed more than 25 million people each year. Plus, the less food emitting methane gas in our landfills (approximately 133 billion pounds), the less greenhouse gasses we will have in our environment.
Retailers and consumers alone throw out almost a third of our food supply, according to the USDA, not counting waste from foodservice operators and restaurants.
“The most common cause we run into for food waste is buying too much or too little of raw materials needed to produce for a specific demand,” says Chris Williamson, general manager, X3 division, NexTec Group, Orlando, FL.
He said buying excess dairy or shelf-life managed ingredients can result in scrapped, wasted or shortened product shelf life. “This results in reduced profitability as well as increased product safety risk,” he said.
Many other factors also contribute to food waste in the U.S., said Warren Gilbert, food safety specialist, FSS Corp., Elkhorn, WI.
“There are many ways to create food waste; improperly handling product, incorrect labeling, lack of traceability, poorly approved supplier programs, poor equipment operations and customer complaints,” Gilbert said.
One easily addressed cause of food waste is a lack of access to measurement technology in kitchens.
“Simply put, you can’t manage what you don’t measure,” says Laura Abshire, director, sustainability and policy at the Washington D.C.-based National Restaurant Association, a Food Waste Reduction Alliance member.
“If you aren’t accurately measuring what’s coming in and what’s being thrown out, you can’t build a waste reduction strategy.”
By leveraging software solutions, food manufacturers can configure their supply chain systems to produce and buy what they need, no more or no less, based on specific, intelligent demand.
For example, Rudy’s Tortillas, a third generation leading manufacturer of tortilla products to food service organizations and retailers, implemented new food management software and leveraged the MRP engine as part of a food reduction project.
Guerra said he was able to almost completely eliminate his waste of tens of thousands of dollars of food a month.
Automated food waste tracking programs can help foodservice operators record what and why an item is being thrown out and examine the supply chain for areas of waste. Managers can monitor vegetable and fruit trimming, over-production and over-portioning of menu items, and reduce losses caused by spoiled and expired foods.
The National Restaurant Association’s (NRA) Conserve program has partnered with LeanPath, a food waste prevention software provider that helps kitchens measure and monitor waste.
“It has proven results. The MGM Grand Buffet in Las Vegas is a high-demand, high-quality buffet that used LeanPath to successfully reduce food waste by more than 80 percent, and is now saving between $6,000 and $9,000 a month in food costs,” said the NRA’s Abshire.
New apps and web-based platforms are being created to connect retailers and foodservice operators with organizations interested in buying or receiving excess food before it goes bad, as well.
Technology solutions certainly offer efficiencies — from anaerobic digesters that convert waste to energy to emerging technologies for in-store applications that help the stock room communicate what’s on the shelf, says David Fikes, vice president, consumer/community affairs and communications, Food Marketing Institute, Arlington, Va., and FWRA member.
“Food retailers, manufacturers and restaurants are all working to highlight ways of better working together,” says Fikes. “Still, these efficiencies require significant investments in resources and new ways of doing business, which is why we continue to develop solutions and best practices documents to help make the business case for sustainability initiatives around food waste reduction.”
Complaints about poor food hygiene up 14 percent in Ireland
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2016/02/overall-complaints-by-irish-about-food-quality-remain-unchanged/#.VtOpJk5umUl
By News Desk (Feb 22, 2016)
How often during the course of last year did the 5 million people of Ireland lodge complaints related to their food? The Food Safety Authority of Ireland is out with a report on its Advice Line for 2015 that provides some answers.
The FSA of Ireland took 2,739 complaints by consumers relating to food, food premises and food labelling in 2015. While the figure was largely unchanged on 2014 when 2,738 where received, the number of complaints about poor hygiene standards showed an increase of 14 percent, compared with 2014, while complaints about incorrect information on food labelling were up 10 percent. The number of complaints about unfit food was down 12 percent and complaints about food poisoning were down 4 percent.
Consumer complaints ranged from reports of food unfit to eat, to non-display of allergen information:
•1,052 complaints on unfit food;
•643 complaints on hygiene standards;
•510 complaints on suspect food poisoning;
•192 complaints on incorrect information on food labelling;
•42 complaints on non-display of allergen information; and
•342 complaints about other issues.
Contamination of food with foreign objects was frequently reported by consumers. In 2015 those reports included allegations of food contaminated with dead insects and metal, as well as other foreign objects. For example, an animal tooth in jam; a beetle in a burger bun; a worm in a chicken nugget; a metal screw in a cake; a snail in pick ‘n’ mix sweets; and a sharp piece of glass in frozen peas.
Other complaints regarding unfit food referred to undercooked food being served in food premises; out-of-date food being sold in retail outlets; moldy bread being used to make sandwiches and strange tastes coming from food. All complaints received by the FSAI were followed up and investigated by enforcement officers throughout the country.
Of the 11,832 requests received by the FSAI’s Advice Line during 2015, 49 percent were from food businesses seeking advice and information across a range of food related areas. Key areas of advice sought included information about labelling requirements; allergens and additives; resources for food business start-ups; information on training, standards and legislation; as well as requests for FSAI publications.
“In recent years, consumers have become much more conscious about the food they consume and are increasingly vigilant about food safety issues. There is now a low level of tolerance around poor hygiene standards and food that is unfit to eat in particular.” Edel Smyth, information manager for FSAI, reported.
“This is a welcome development and is reflected in the level of complaints we receive directly from consumers. We continue to encourage anyone who has had a bad food safety experience to report the matter to the FSAI so that the issue can be dealt with.”
Smyth said the FSAI’s Advice Line is an important resource for the food industry with experts available to assist food business owners and managers understand their legal requirements.
“This is supported by our comprehensive website and online publication ordering system which allows food businesses to download publications directly from the FSAI website. We urge food businesses to take full advantage of the information and support provided to ensure they reach their food safety legal requirements.”
Approximately 49 percent of requests to the FSAI Advice Line in 2015 were received by telephone, while 40 percent were received by electronic routes, such as email and website requests. The remainder of requests, 11 percent, included attendance at events and through the FSAI’s facebook and Twitter pages.
The FSAI Advice Line, which operates from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays, is manned by trained advisors and food scientists and can be reached on 1890 336677. Alternatively, anyone can email their enquiry to email@example.com or through the ‘make a complaint’ section of the FSAI website. The FSAI Facebook page and Twitter page, @FSAIinfo, are also resources with up-to-the-minute information in relation food safety in Ireland.
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