Food Safety

 

Asheville-Area Salmonella Outbreak Expands

Locally made tempeh recalled; shared kitchen halts production

by Gretchen Goetz | May 01, 2012
The number of illnesses tied to a Salmonella outbreak in western North Carolina has risen from 29 to 37, health authorities reported Monday. Meanwhile, a Buncombe County tempeh maker recalled its products, apparently because it is one of several companies under investigation as a possible link to the outbreak.
The recall was initiated by Smiling Hara, which supplies frozen tempeh to local restaurants and stores, according to a news release from Blue Ridge Food Ventures, a shared-use commercial kitchen used by Smiling Hara. Tempeh is made from cooked and fermented soybeans.
“Immediately upon learning  of the investigation, Blue Ridge Food Ventures temporarily halted our normal production schedule and began extensive environmental testing as a proactive, voluntary and precautionary measure,” the news release stated.
Blue Ridge Food Ventures said its facility is used by about 20 small, local food companies that rent time and industrial kitchen space to make their products. Each business has its own food production and safety plans, according to the Blue Ridge Food Ventures statement.

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The bacteria – Salmonella Paratyphi B – seems to have infected those who live in or have recently visited Buncombe County, a region close to the Tennessee border that includes the city of Asheville. The local health department is collaborating with the North Carolina Department of Public Health, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to determine the source of the outbreak.

Missouri May Be Moving Forward With ‘Ag-Gag’

by Dan Flynn | May 01, 2012
A Missouri Senate committee will hear and likely recommend approval of House Bill 1860, the so-called ag-gag bill the lower chamber already approved on a 124-29 vote.

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If that happens, HB 1860 will get a final up or down vote on the floor of the Missouri Senate, possibly before the end of the week.
Sponsored by Rep. Casey Guernsey, who chairs the House Agribusiness Committee, HB 1860 started out as an obscure bill dealing with changes involving grain dealers and vocational education.
But then came amendments Guernsey apparently planned all along to add language making new criminal law. As it left the House, the bill would create two new “agricultural crimes” in Missouri. They are:

More Illnesses Linked to Raw Milk From Oregon Farm

by Gretchen Goetz | May 01, 2012
The Oregon farm whose raw milk is the suspected source of an E. coli outbreak that has sickened 19 has now been associated with two more food borne illness victims.

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Health officials reported Monday that two adults who had consumed raw milk from Foundation Farm had contracted infections from two different pathogens  – Campylobacter and Cryptosporidium.
It is not clear whether these illnesses came from the farm’s raw milk or from another source, says William Keene, Senior Epidemiologist at the Oregon Public Health Division. And without more than one illness, neither of these cases will be classified as part of an outbreak.

North Carolina Salmonella Outbreak Strain Is Rare

May 1, 2012 By

Salmonella Paratyphi B, the pathogen at the heart of an outbreak near Asheville. N.C. that has sickened at least 37 people, is a rare substrain of a common bacteria. So rare, in fact, that this is the first time the bacteria has caused a foodborne illness outbreak in North Carolina.

“There has never been one before,” said Mark Van Sciver, public information officer with the North Carolina Department of Health And Human Services.

Salmonella bacteria are the most frequently reported cause of foodborne disease in the Unites States causing 1.4 million illnesses and more than 400 deaths each year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). 

The Salmonella family includes more than 2,300 substrains but just two of them- Salmonella Enteritidis and Salmonella Typhimurium account for half of all infections, according to the USDA. Between 1998 and 2009, there were 458 foodborne illness outbreaks caused by Salmonella Enteritidis, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). During that same period, just three outbreaks were caused by Salmonella Paratyphi B.

 

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Source of Kent County Jail Food Poisoning Outbreak Confirmed

May 1, 2012 By

According to Lisa LaPlante, Communications and Marketing Manager of the Kent County Department of Health, the source of the April 15, 2012 food poisoning outbreak at the Kent County Jail has been discovered.

Laboratory tests have revealed that there was Clostridium perfringens, a spore-producing bacteria, in a rice and cheese product. The food was prepared, chilled, and then reheated and served to the inmates.

 

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Recalls

 

 

Kaytee Recalls Mouse, Rat and Hamster Food for Possible Salmonella

May 1, 2012 By

Kaytee Pet Products is recalling Kaytee Forti-Diet Pro Health Mouse, Rat, and Hamster food because of possible Salmonella contamination. No pet or human illnesses have been reported to date.

Product details:

 

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Diamond Pet Foods Expands Dog Food Recall Again

May 1, 2012 By

Diamond Pet Foods is expanding a voluntary recall to include Diamond Puppy Formula dry dog food. Salmonella was found in the product. No dog illnesses have been reported.

Human beings who handle the food may be exposed to the bacteria. Salmonella causes nausea, vomiting, bloody diarrhea, abdominal cramps. Long term effects of this illness include arthritis, urinary tract problems, hypertension, and heart disease. Some pets will only have decreased appetite, fever, and abdominal pain, but some dogs can be carriers of the bacteria with no symptoms.

The company requests that anyone who has fed these products to their animals with those symptoms take them to a veterinarian for tests.

 

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Articles of Interest

 

 

KFC Ordered to Pay $8.3 Million to Australian Girl Paralyzed After Eating a Twister Wrap

Monika Samaan was seven when she suffered salmonella encephalopathy — a brain injury linked to food poisoning that also left her with a blood infection and septic shock.
April 27, 2012

Fast food giant Kentucky Fried Chicken has been ordered to pay Aus$8 million (US$8.3 million) to an Australian girl who suffered severe brain damage and was paralyzed after eating a Twister wrap.

Monika Samaan was seven when she suffered salmonella encephalopathy — a brain injury linked to food poisoning that also left her with a blood infection and septic shock — in October 2005.

Several other family members also fell ill and they claimed Samaan’s injuries, which include severe cognitive, motor and speech impairment and spastic quadriplegia, were caused by a chicken Twister wrap from a Sydney KFC outlet.

 

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Theology of Salmon: Wild or Farmed?

Most of what people think they know about aquaculture salmon is obsolete, or wasn’t true in the first place

by Ross Anderson | May 01, 2012
Opinion
Food Safety News writer Ross Anderson recently toured fish farms and processing plants in southern Chile as a guest of Salmon of the Americas, a Chilean trade organization. This is the second of two reports.
Puerto Montt, Chile – In the Pacific Northwest, where I’ve lived and worked for 40 years, salmon is more than a commodity. It’s a regional icon and an article of faith, part of a regional doctrine that dictates: thou shalt eat wild salmon only, for farmed salmon is a blasphemy.
As a journalist with agnostic tendencies, I’ve never really subscribed to this belief. But I’ve always been a tad suspicious of farmed salmon. I suppose it has to do with vague recollections of something I read about the use of antibiotics, or to the label we frequently see on salmon packages: “color added.”
So when I jetted off to Chile a few weeks ago, it was with a twinge of skepticism.

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Over the following five days, I saw a lot of fish. I walked the galvanized steel catwalks around floating net pens the size of three football fields and 100 feet deep – pens that contained millions of Atlantic salmon, shadowy missiles milling beneath the surface until the automatic feeders spring to action and the surface suddenly boils with bright, silvery, hungry salmon that reminded me of an Alaska spawning run.
I toured factories that resemble surgical wards, with scores of workers draped in white gowns, masks and rubber boots, stepping through disinfectant baths between rooms. I watched men and women trimming gorgeous, red fillets into meal-size portions for freezing, then for shipment to markets around the world. I listened to workers explain what they do, and what they’ve learned from the last few years, when an invading virus killed millions of fish, and almost killed the industry.
At each stop, I asked questions about our perceptions of farmed salmon, about antibiotics and Omega 3 fatty acids and food coloring.

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Industry leaders, of course, assure us that all is well. So in recent days, I’ve consulted with several independent experts, including Dr. Mike Rust, aquaculture researcher at the Northwest Fisheries Science Center in Seattle; Dr. John Forster, a marine biologist and aquaculture expert based in Port Angeles, WA; and Gary Marty, a fisheries expert with the Canadian Agriculture Ministry and a professor at the University of California. Here’s what I’ve learned.

Inspector General Gives Positive Report on FSIS Humane Handling Enforcement

by Helena Bottemiller | May 01, 2012
The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is appropriately handling industry appeals of its humane handling enforcement actions, according to a recent report by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Office of Inspector General (OIG).

cowdowner-350.jpgThe audit — which was requested by the Office of Food Safety to “ensure that FSIS was appropriately enforcing federal humane handling laws” — was positive across the board and made no formal recommendations for the agency. The review was part of a multi-pronged reaction to a 2010 Government Accountability Office report that found enforcement of humane handling laws was inconsistent.

“The OIG determination shows that FSIS’ enforcement of humane handling regulations, as well as its appeals process, is fair and consistent,” Under Secretary for Food Safety Elisabeth Hagen said in a USDA release on Monday. “As OIG noted, FSIS has taken many steps to improve its inspectors’ understanding of humane handling requirements and the tools they have to ensure the humane handling of livestock.”

***Here  I  have taken the liberty  of  including  a  response  that  was  given  to the  report  above.  I  found  it  so  compelling  and  resonant  with  my  own  misgivings about the supposed enforcement  of  these  rules.  Had  they  been  enforced properly from the get  go  much of  the cruelty  and the inhumane  treatment that is  reported  often would not  be  occurring.
susan Rudnicki
05/01/2012
9:40AM

Frankly, having experience with other OIG reports monitoring the very agencies they are “investigating” I find the conclusions of this “report” unhelpful, ridiculously limited, and missing the point. I bet no one will read the actual document, but I did and pulled out a few of the most egregious assertions.

“Fieldwork was performed at the FSIS headquarters office in Washington, D.C., and FSIS district offices in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The selection of district offices was based on the number of appealed humane handling noncompliance records and the number of appeals that were granted. We did not perform any reviews at slaughter establishments for this audit.” WOW–THIS MAKES EVERY CONFIDENCE THAT ANALYZING DATA IN A OFFICE, FROM THE QUESTIONABLE SOURCES RECORDING THE DATA, IS LIKELY TO TURN UP INHUMANE CONDUCT, EH?

Although FSIS guidance states that the public health veterinarian, inspector in charge, front line supervisor, and district manager should attempt to respond to appeals within 2 weeks, we found the average time for the FSIS officials listed above to respond to an appeal was 28 days (4 weeks). We identified 9 instances where FSIS took 100 or more days to respond to an appealed humane handling violation, with the longest time being 302 days. We determined that, for 61 of the 138 (44 percent) appeals, FSIS took more than 2 weeks to respond, and 46 of the 138 (33 percent) took more than 3 weeks. SO, SKINNING/DECAPITATING OF LIVE CALVES, AS REPORTED BY THE WHISTLE BLOWER AT THE BELTWAY PLANT (FOR EXAMPLE) WOULD BE GETTING A QUICK RESPONSE, USING THIS RUBRIC?? MY GUESS IS A LOT OF DOWNERS AND OTHER INHUMANE ISSUES WOULD KEEP HAPPENING TILL THE AUTHORITIES “GET ‘ROUND TO IT.

Of the 138 appeals of humane handling noncompliance records, 8 were granted because the FSIS inspector’s description of the noncompliance was unclear or inadequate and the FSIS personnel at the next level of appeal could not determine if the situation was actually a humane handling violation. For example, one supervisor reviewing an appeal wrote that he granted the appeal “due to an inadequate description of the noncompliance within Block 10 of the NR [noncompliance record]. The noncompliance was not apparent with the description provided.” Block 10 is the space within the noncompliance record form used to describe the noncompliance observed by FSIS personnel. SO, A SPACE ON A REPORT PAPER IS UTILIZED FOR RECORDING THE NATURE OF CRUELTY, BUT THE OBSERVER IS SO LANGUAGE CHALLENGED, THEY CAN NOT PUT IT INTO WORDS? MAYBE WE NEED SOME PHOTOS TO REFER TO WITH THE OBSERVERS PAPERS—“CAN YOU MATCH THIS HORROR?” “IF IT LOOKS LIKE THIS, IT IS INHUMANE”

For example, one of the five appeals describes how an FSIS inspector observed animal handlers chasing animals into the kill alley by shouting and whistling. According to Federal regulations, livestock must be driven to slaughter at a normal walking pace and with a minimum of excitement and discomfort to the animals.10 After the inspector issued a noncompliance record, the establishment appealed, and the appeal was granted by the inspector in charge. The inspector in charge did not question the validity of the events described in the noncompliance record but did acknowledge that, after discussions with the plant’s management and the subsequent actions taken by the establishment, the animal handlers’ performance was much improved. In other words, the appeal appears to have been granted based solely on corrective actions; namely, the subsequent improvement of animal movement by establishment personnel. CONSIDERING THE HORRIFIC ALLEGATIONS OF SKINNING ALIVE WEEK OLD CALVES, HOTSHOTTING DAIRY COWS UNABLE TO WALK, ETC. THIS WAS THE EXAMPLE THEY CHOOSE TO DOCUMENT? LET US SANITIZE THE ISSUES, PLEASE This report is a travesty of self-serving reporting

 

Thank You Susan Rudnicki !!!

 

 

 

Mad Cow Disease: Conversation with an Expert

May 1, 2012 By

Last month’s case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), popularly known as “mad cow disease” raised the spectre of that illness in the United States.

There is evidence that there are two types of BSE: typical and atypical. The typical strain is contracted when the animals are given food made from contaminated cows. A ban on this practice, known as “mammalian-to-ruminant feed ban” was instituted in 1997 in the U.S. and Canada. The ban was enhanced in 2007 to include “specified risk materials from all animal feeds, pet foods, and fertilizers.”

The atypical BSE may be a different strain of the prion. Scientists say that these cases are most likely spontaneous mutations, although it may be transmitted through food or the environment.

There have been four cases of BSE in cattle in the United States: one in 2003 in Washington State, the second in Texas in 2005, the third in Alabama in 2006, and the California dairy cow in April 2012.

In the first case, that cow had typical BSE. It was imported into the country from Canada where it was born, before the Canadian feed ban was established. The second two cases were atypical BSE, which occur as spontaneous mutations and are not related to consuming contaminated feed. Scientists say that the fourth case was also a spontaneous mutation.

Food Poisoning Bulletin asked Dr. Alfredo DiCostanzo, Professor of Animal Science at the University of Minnesota, about this case.

He said, “the cases found in 2004, 2006, and this most recent case were not related in any way to feeding animal byproducts to cattle. BSE in these cases was the result of a spontaneous prion protein mutation. Therefore, dietary ingredients can effectively be ruled out as the source of the disease in these cases.”

 

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