WhioTV has reported that at least 10 people have fallen ill with E. coli infections after eating at a picnic in Germantown, Ohio, according to the Dayton & Montgomery County Health Department. Approximately six people have been hospitalized, a health department spokesman said.
Sixty-One Now Sickened with E. coli 0157 in Neff’s Lawn Care Picnic Outbreak
According to Bill Wharton, spokesman for the Dayton & Montgomery County Health Department in Ohio, 61 people have been sickened with E. coli 0157 after attending a picnic held by Neff’s Lawn Care in Germantown. Mr. Wharton said that 11 people have been hospitalized. Mr. Wharton said, “we aren’t releasing any information other than to say we’re investigating the outbreak.” The health department is interviewing picnic attendees and patients, looking at food sources, storage and handling practices, and cross-contamination potential.
Since 200 to 300 people attended the picnic, more cases may be reported. Doctors must report E. coli infections to public health officials. If you or anyone you know attended this picnic and have been sick, please call the Dayton & Montgomery County Health Department at 937-225-4460 to talk to a public health official.
Symptoms of E. coli infections include severe stomach cramps, diarrhea which is often bloody, a mild fever, and sometimes nausea and vomiting. E. coli 0157 infections cannot be treated with antibiotics, since that increases the risk that hemolytic uremic syndrome, a serious complication, may occur.
Federal Egg Safety Rule Goes into Full Effect
Georgia Food Processors Get To Dance Around Law
Study: Farmers Market Employees Rarely Wash Hands
New Brunswick Affected By Another E. Coli Outbreak
Hazelnut Safety Improves in Wake of Outbreak and Recalls
Upstate New York Shigella Outbreak Expands to 45
Almost three weeks after health officials in Upstate New York announced they were investigating a Shigella outbreak affecting 25 people, the estimated victim count has grown to 45.
FDA Found Violations of Food Safety Rules on 40% of Egg Farms
The FDA has released a new report on egg farms it inspected in 2011. They found violations of egg safety rules used to prevent Salmonella contamination on 40% of the inspected farms, but only 3% of the issues were serious enough for the agency to take action.
Last year, the agency inspected 555 egg laying farms. On 14 of those farms, or 2.7%, inspectors found “egregious” problems that called for an official response, such as an FDA warning letter. An additional 195 inspections, or 37.9%, found “significant deficiencies” the agency thinks farmers should be able to correct by themselves.
The problems include the following: lack of a written Salmonella enteritidis prevention plan; failure to test for S. enteritidis during required time periods; failure to divert or test eggs after a positive environmental sample; failure to implement the S. enteritidis prevention plan, Failure to maintain required records; and failure to monitor conditions required for the plan implementation.
Frozen Desserts Recalled for Undeclared Milk
A California company is recalling various frozen dessert products because they contain a product derived from milk, a known allergen, but milk is not listed as an ingredient.
Winn-Dixie Recalls Cheeseburger Skillet Dinner for Small Metal Fragments
Winn-Dixie is announcing a recall of their store brand Cheeseburger Macaroni Skillet Dinners because the package may contain small metal fragments. The recalled Winn-Dixie Cheeseburger Macaroni Skillet Dinner product is in a 5.8 ounce package with a UPC number of 2114018080 and a sell-by date of May 14, 2013. The recalled products were sold in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, and Mississippi.
The product was shipped to stores on or after May 14, 2012. There have not been any reports received of any injuries associated with the consumption of this product.
Cass-Clay Creamery of North Dakota is recalling Hornbacher’s Peppermint Bon Bon ice cream for undeclared eggs, one of the major food allergens. The recalled Cass-Clay products include the following: Hornbacher’s Peppermint Bon Bon Light (Half gallon/1.89 liter), Schroeder Pepppermint Bon Bon (1.75 quart/1.65 liter) and SunnyBrook Peppermint Bon Bon Light (Half gallon/1.89 liter). The products were distributed in Iowa, North Dakota, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. All code dates are affected by the recall. No illnesses have been reported to date.
A flavoring containing egg yolks was used as an ingredient in the product. Return the products to the store where they were purchased for a full refund. For questions, call the Consumer Affairs line at 1-800-441-4269.
In Canada, Fresh Peas Recalled for Possible Listeria
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency is recalling fresh shelled peas from Thomas Bros. Farm Market because they may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes. The recalled fresh shelled peas were sold from Thomas Bros. Farm Market at 5856 Colonel Talbot Road in London Ontario on June 27, 2012. The packages do not have labels.
If you have purchased this product, do not eat it. If you have frozen the peas for later consumption, discard them. There have not been any reported illnesses associated with the consumption of this product. Food contaminated with dangerous bacteria may not look, taste, or smell spoiled. Listeria can cause listeriosis, which can cause symptoms of high fever, headache, neck stiffness, and nausea. Pregnant women may have very mild symptoms, but listeriosis can cause miscarriages and stillbirths. For questions, call the CFIA at 1-800-442-2342, or Thomas Bros. Farm Market at 519-671-8831.
NIH Study Finds Children With Allergies Have Frequent Reactions
A new study conducted at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, part of the Consortium of Food Allergy Research at the National Institute of Health (NIH), has found that young children with milk or egg allergies have reactions more often than expected.
The research team followed 512 infants, ages 3 to 15 months, for three years. The children in the study had a previous allergic reaction to milk or eggs, or were thought to be allergic to those foods based on positive skin tests. At the beginning of the study, caregivers were given strategies for avoiding milk and egg products, and written emergency plans with epinephrine prescriptions.
The study found that almost 72% of the children in the study had an allergic reaction over the three year period. More than half of the children had more than one reaction. Startlingly, allergenic foods were given to the children on purpose.
Scientists aren’t sure why a parent or caregiver would give a child an allergenic food. It may be that they want to see if the child has outgrown the allergy. The study found that half of the accidental reactions were from food given to the child by parents, stressing the importance of making sure all caregivers, including siblings, babysitters, and teachers are aware of the allergies.
Articles of Interest
Mad Cow Disease Spreads in Nervous System Before Detection
A new study in the American Journal of Pathology has shown that bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), commonly known as “mad cow” disease”, spreads in the autonomic nervous system (ANS) to the central nervous system (CNS) before it can be detected. Mad cow is a fatal disease in cattle that can be transmitted to humans who eat infected tissue. There isn’t much that scientists know about the spread of the BSE prion in its early incubation period. Other studies have reported that the autonomic nervous system was affected only after the central nervous system is infected.
The autonomic nervous system controls involuntary actions, such as heart rate, blood pressure, and the functions of major organs. It consists of the sympathetic ANS, the parasymphathetic ANS, and the enteric nervous system. The central nervous system is the part that controls your brain and makes up your consciousness; it consists of the brain and spinal cord. It usually takes five years from infection before the disease can be detected. But in the study, 56 calves were infected orally with BSE; samples were collected every four months for the next three and a half years. Scientists found the pathological prion (a misfolded protein that is not alive) in the gut and in the ANS but not in the CNS.
USDA Budget Cut Could Slash 80 Percent of Produce Testing
The nation’s largest pathogen testing program may shut down this month
The USDA’s Microbiological Data Program was zeroed out in the Obama administration’s 2013 budget request and Congress is not seeking funding for the $4.5 million program next year. It is rumored that MDP is set to close down at the end of this month, but the Agricultural Marketing Service, where MDP is housed, would not confirm the program’s status.
Elimination of the testing program has become a public health hot potato. Several media outlets, including the Chicago Tribune, the Associated Press, and the New York Times have weighed into the debate. The Times’ editorial board even called it “a tiny program that matters,” an unusually high profile appeal for an obscure program with a relatively small budget.
This “tiny” program was launched in 2001 simply to collect data about fresh produce contamination, but it now regularly sparks produce recalls when participating state labs find pathogens. Perhaps more importantly, the labs upload any positive test results to the Centers for Disease Control’s PulseNet, which helps public health officials link foodborne illness cases to food products. MDP is also the only federal program that tests for non-O157 E. coli strains like the one that caused the deadly, high profile sprout outbreak in Germany last year.
Both the Obama administration and the fresh produce industry have argued that AMS is the wrong agency to house the nation’s only robust microbiological surveillance program for produce because AMS is focused on marketing, not food safety. Some believe the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which has jurisdiction over the safety of produce, would be better equipped to screen produce for harmful pathogens.
FDA gave Food Safety News an overview of its surveillance testing from 2009 to 2012. The agency pulls, on average, 80 percent fewer fresh produce samples for testing than MDP. It is not clear whether FDA plans to, or has the resources to ramp up testing to fill the void that would be left by eliminating MDP testing. FDA did not respond to questions about whether the agency would ramp up testing next year.
The data graphic below compares FDA and MDP produce testing. The FDA numbers include samples collected at ports where fresh produce is imported. As much as 50 to 60 percent of produce consumed in the United States is imported, depending on the season. The numbers below do not include testing FDA may do in the event of an outbreak, which can include product testing from outbreak victims or environmental testing from food facilities.
To view specific testing numbers, hold your cursor over the images. For 2012, the FDA testing numbers are through June 15 and the MDP numbers are projected through the end of July.
International School for Food Protection: 21st Century’s Food Industry Classroom?
Jensen Farms Cantaloupe Listeria Cases Must Be Filed by September 14
Jensen Farms, the company that grew and shipped the cantaloupes that caused the large Listeria outbreak last summer has filed for bankruptcy. The United States Bankruptcy Court in Colorado has approved the motion, and a date has been set for filing of claims.
All people who assert a claim based on the outbreak of listeriosis must file it by 5:00 pm Eastern Time on or before September 14, 2012. It’s important that anyone who was affected by this outbreak file a claim to receive compensation for their injuries. The court is ordering that Jensen Farms make available $4 million in settlement money, from its insurance policy, insurers of the equipment the facility used, and from the third-party auditor who failed to discover contamination at the plant just before the outbreak occurred.
The company faces seven personal injury lawsuits and 12 wrongful death suits. That outbreak was one of the deadliest in U.S. history, killing at least 35 people and sicking 146 in 28 states before the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) declared the outbreak over on December 8, 2011 and released its final report. The outbreak began on September 2, 2011, when the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment notified the CDC about seven patients who were sick with the same strain of Listeria bacteria.
Individuals and Companies Should be Prosecuted for Foodborne Outbreaks
As one of the few food safety lawyers in America, I’m often asked whether I believe that America’s food supply is the safest in the world. The short answer is: “I have no idea” – and if you’re one of the thousands of Americans sickened each year by foodborne illness, it’s no comfort knowing that some countries have food less safe than the product that shut down your kidneys or killed your loved one.
The real questions about food safety have nothing to do with overweening national pride. In fact, there are only two questions that make any sense at all: “Can our food system be safer?” and “What steps have to be taken to make it so?”
Since no one honestly doubts that our food safety system can and should be better, let me focus on answering the second question (based on what I’ve learned litigating the failures of companies implicated in foodborne illness outbreaks). I will address these issues in the weeks to come but begin with a deficiency I find particularly galling – the failure to prosecute individuals and companies responsible for outbreaks.
If while driving a car, I go too fast, take my eyes off the road or drive while intoxicated, and someone ends up paralyzed or dead, I’m going to be prosecuted. And I should be. So why should a food producer that ignores accepted principles of food safety (or, worse, the company’s own food safety systems) not have to fear criminal prosecution when scores of Americans are sickened or killed by the company’s egregious conduct?
I can think of a number of recent outbreaks – the Peanut Corporation of America Salmonella outbreak, the Jensen Farms Rocky Ford cantaloupe Listeria outbreak and the Wright County egg Salmonella outbreak – that may have warranted criminal prosecution. Sadly, it appears that, short of declaring a company’s intent to sicken as many folks as possible, miscreant food producers have nothing to fear.
California GMO Labeling Law Named Prop. 37
California’s Office of the Secretary of State announced on Monday that the California Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act, also known as the GMO labeling initiative, will appear on voter ballots as Proposition 37 for the November 6 elections.
If passed, Prop. 37 would make California the first state in the U.S. to require labeling of most foods made with genetically modified organisms — those given specific changes to their DNA through genetic engineering techniques.
Polls conducted by various organizations in recent years have found that roughly 90 percent of Californians support labeling for genetically engineered (GE) foods. But regardless of the polls, leaders of California’s GE labeling movement are still preparing for a fight on the road to election day.
“We certainly have huge support, but we’re not taking anything for granted. There’s a big effort to fight it and we’re worried about the money that will be put toward that effort,” California Right to Know campaign spokeswoman Stacy Malkan told Food Safety News.
GE labeling is already law in nearly 50 countries, including China, Japan and each European state. Alaska requires labeling of GE fish and shellfish, making it the only U.S. state with any type of GE labeling law.
Earlier this year, three-quarters of U.S. Senators rejected a federal GE labeling bill. Nearly 20 states have had similar bills turned down in congress in the past year.
Most major food corporations oppose GE labeling, citing the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s requirement that GE ingredients be labeled if they’re determined to exhibit a difference in nutritional value or level of safety.
FDA Takes Action Against WI Livestock Dealer for Drug Residues
In response to a permanent injunction filed by the U.S. Department of Justice on behalf of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, a Wisconsin livestock company and its owner have entered into a consent decree of permanent injunction over alleged illegal drug residues in cows meant for human consumption.
According to the complaint filed, Dan Nolan Livestock LLC and its owner, Daniel W. Nolan of Bonduel, Wisc., did not maintain adequate animal treatment records concerning the drug treatment of food animals.
In a release on Tuesday, the FDA said its inspectors also found that the company and Nolan used “new animal drugs illegally, and did not adequately distinguish between medicated and non-medicated animals for sale for use as human food.”
U.S. District Judge William C. Griesbach of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin signed the consent decree on July 9, 2012.
“The FDA took the action because it is concerned about the sale of animals for human food that may contain levels of animal drugs and could have the potential for adverse effects on human health,” the agency said in a statement.
“Among other requirements, the company and Nolan must implement a system that identifies the source of each animal and whether the animal was medicated. The firm also must implement a drug inventory and accountability system and provide purchasers, receivers, and consignees with written statements describing how the animal was medicated, or stating that the animal was not medicated.”
“If the FDA finds that the defendants are not in compliance with the decree, the agency may require defendants to cease selling and delivering any food animals. Failure to obey the terms of the consent decree could also result in civil or criminal penalties.”
Wisconsin Sizzlers Vindicated in State Supreme Court
But Sizzler’s lawyer, Fred L. Gordon, says it could have been over years ago if only
Research Linking Chicken to Bladder Infections Gets National Attention
On Wednesday, ABC ran a segment featuring the latest research on both Good Morning America and World News with Diane Sawyer, programs with a combined daily viewership of more than 10 million. ABC called the research “compelling new evidence of a direct link between the pervasive, difficult-to-cure human disease and the antibiotic-fed chicken people buy at the grocery store.”
Canadian researchers recently published a study in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Emerging Infectious Diseases journal that found genetic similarities between E. coli from animals sampled at slaughterhouses and the E. coli that causes UTIs and suggested that chickens were the most likely reservoir for the bacteria. Most recently, some of the same researchers published a study in the journal of Foodborne Pathogens and Disease that found retail poultry meat had the highest levels of drug-resistant E. coli.
Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are the second most common type of infection in the body, accounting for 8.1 million visits to health care providers in the United States each year and around $1-2 billion per year in health care costs. Around 85 percent of these infections are caused by extraintestinal pathogenic Escherichia coli, or ExPEC, which doctors long assumed came from patient’s own intestines. New research, however, has been looking at outside sources as potentially part of the problem.
“What this new research shows is, we may in fact know where it’s coming from. It may be coming from antibiotics used in agriculture,” said Maryn McKenna, a reporter for the Food & Environment Reporting Network, which worked with ABC news on their investigation. McKenna, a leading infectious disease journalist and the author of Superbug: The Fatal Menace of MRSA, penned an in depth piece for The Atlantic that also ran on Wednesday.
“The researchers contend that poultry — especially chicken, the low-cost, low-fat protein that Americans eat more than any other meat — is the bridge that allows resistant bacteria to move to humans, taking up residence in the body and sparking infections when conditions are right,” wrote McKenna. “Touching raw meat that contains the resistant bacteria, or coming into environmental contact with it — say, by eating lettuce that was cross-contaminated — are easy ways to become infected.”
SNAP Will Replace Food Lost in Disasters
Many who rely on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) can be in real trouble when they lose food in a natural disaster. When the power goes out for more than four hours, perishable foods become unsafe to eat and must be tossed.
Food Poisoning Bulletin contacted the Food and Nutrition Service of the USDA and was told that anyone who lost food that was purchased with SNAP can request replacement coupons from their local human service office. Those requests are time-sensitive, so it’s important that recipients know about this program and act quickly. Foods that are eligible for SNAP benefits include breads, cereals, fruits, vegetables, meats, fish, poultry, dairy products, seeds for food and plants that produce food.
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