Washington State Warns of Increased Bacteria in Raw Oysters
Right on the heels of a Vibrio outbreak in Missouri, the Washington state Department of Health is warning consumers to cook oysters before eating them. Traditionally, raw oysters are avoided in the summer months (months without an “R” in the name) because Vibrio parahaemolyticus grows more readily in brackish water during the warm summer months.
Jerrod Davis, director of the Department of Health’s Office of Shellfish and Water Protection, said in a statement, “Vibriosis is completely preventable. We want people to enjoy our state’s wonderful shellfish, and following some simple safety tips can help keep people healthy this summer.”
Most people cook shellfish, such as oysters, mussels, and clams, until the shells open. But that’s not enough to kill any bacteria that may be present. Shellfish should be cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 145 degrees F for at least 15 seconds to be safe.
If you boil shellfish, cook for 3 to 5 minutes after the shells open, then check the internal temperature with a food thermometer. If you choose to steam shellfish, cook for 4 to 9 minutes after the shells open. Check with that thermometer again.
Outbreak of Vibrio in Missouri
The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) has announced there is an outbreak of Vibriosis in eastern Missouri. The illnesses are caused by Vibrio parahaemolyticus, which is usually associated with eating raw or undercooked shellfish, particularly oysters.
Three cases of the illnesses have been identified June 27 and 28, 2012. Risk factors for acquiring this disease include eating raw or undercooked oysters, clams, mussels, or crabs; or cross-contamination of other foods or surfaces with raw seafood. The bacteria lives in brackish water and grows easily in warm water during the summer months.
Wildfires and Food Safety
The western United States is suffering through some horrific wildfires. In Colorado alone, more than 350 homes have been burned to the ground and wildfires are still raging. Food safety in times like these might not seem important.
But wildfires can make the food in your home dangerous to eat, according to the USDA. Smoke fumes, the heat of the fire, and chemicals used to fight fire can be toxic.
Heat from the fire can:
- Activate bacteria that cause foodborne illness
- Rupture the seals in cans and jars, exposing the food to bacteria
Fumes from a fire can:
- Create toxic fumes that contaminate food
- Contaminate any food stored in permeable packaging
- Contaminate any raw foods stored outside the refrigerator
- Actually get into the refrigerator and contaminate food, since the refrigerator seal isn’t airtight
Chemicals used to fight fires can:
- Contaminate food and cookware
- Create toxins that can’t be washed off the food
USDA Expanding Testing for Illegal Drug Residues in Meat
On July 2, 2012, the United States Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced some new steps to protect the food supply. Later this summer, FSIS will launch a new approach for testing for harmful levels of chemical residues in meat, poultry, and egg products. This is part of the Food Safety Modernization Act.
Under Secretary for Food Safety Dr. Elisabeth Hagen said, “the new testing methods being announced today will help protect consumers from illegal drug residues in meat products. By allowing us to test for more chemical compounds from each sample, these changes will enable USDA to identify and evaluate illegal drug residues more effectively and efficiently.
The National Residue Program (NRP) tests for chemical compounds, including:
- Approved and unapproved veterinary drugs such as:
- Growth promoters
- Environmental contaminants such as heavy metals
Rep. Louise Slaughter Reveals Results of Meat Antibiotic Survey
Congresswoman Louise Slaughter (D-NY) released findings from her survey of 60 fast food chains, meat processors, grocery store chains, and meat producers asking them about their policies on antibiotic use in meat and poultry production.
Here are the key findings from the survey:
- Some companies are providing exclusively antibiotic-free meat and poultry products, including Whole Foods, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Niman Ranch, and Sweetgreen. The companies also offer a high degree of transparency regarding the food production practices they support.
- Most companies, in fact, the “overwhelming majority” according to the report, regularly use antibiotics in food animals as preventative measures (sub-therapeutic doses), and to promote growth. Those are the two uses of antibiotics in farm animals most criticized by scientists and researchers as promoting the growth of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
- The law, as written, fails to address the threat of superbugs.
Rep. Slaughter said that only 31 companies responded directly to her query. She divided the companies she queried into several categories: full disclosure, some questions answered, and minimal disclosure. She also rated them by these categories: antibiotic-free only, moderate antibiotic use, and routine antibiotic use. You can see the survey results at her web site.
According to the survey, these are the companies that follow an antibiotic-free policy, have transparent policies, and offer antibiotic-free options to their customers:
More Salmonella Cases Linked to Tiny Turtles
CDC reporting 149 illnesses in 28 states
Investigations into five ongoing Salmonella outbreaks – all linked to contact with small turtles – have revealed 19 more cases and a sixth outbreak from another strain of the bacteria.
Botulism Outbreak in Oregon Sickens Three
Three Oregonians were hospitalized with boutlism after eating at a private barbecue, according to state health officials.
Sick Subway Employees Worked During Norovirus Outbreak
Employees at an Indiana Subway restaurant went to work in January despite being sick with Norovirus, according to a health department investigation.
Dole Lettuce Recalled for Contamination
Pedigree Brand Wet Dog Food Recalled
Mars Petcare US is voluntarily recalling a limited range of three varieties of PEDIGREE® weight management canned dog food products for a possible choking risk. The product may be contaminated with small pieces of blue plastic, which got into the food during production.
- PEDIGREE +® Health Weight Premium Ground Entrée in Meaty Juices
- UPC number 2310034974
- PEDIGREE® Weight Management Meaty Ground Dinner Beef & Liver Dinner in Meaty Juices
- UPC number 2310001913
- PEDIGREE® Weight Management Meaty Ground Dinner Chicken & Rice Dinner in Meaty Juices
- UPC number 2310023045
Updated Info on Listeria-Contaminated Queso Fresco in New York City
New Yorkers have been warned to avoid “Queso Fresco, Fresh Cheese” products made by Mexicali Cheese Corp. in Woodhaven, New York due to a possible Listeria contamination.
ITO EN USA is requesting that Hawaiian customers of its canned coconut water with pineapple return the product to stores for a refund. The product has an “off smell” and should not be consumed. The recall notice did not state the reason for the odor.
- Aloha Maid Coconut Water with Pineapple
- Any product purchased since May 16, 2012
- Can is stamped on underside with codes
- Code IHMAY0913
- UPC number 8-35146-00818-3
There have not been any reports of serious illness from the consumption of this product. ITO EN is researching the cause of the problem.
Listeria Contamination Prompts Expanded Recall Of Mexicali Cheese
Problems persist at Mexicali Cheese Corp. where Listeria contamination has prompted an expanded recall of cheese products, according to the New York State Department of Agriculture (NYDA).
On July 2, the NYDA announced an expansion of a recall that was issued June 29 after Listeria monocytogenes was discovered in cheese samples taken during routine inspection. There are now four cheeses under recall for possible Listeria contamination:
- Mexicali Queso Fresco Mexicano, Mexican Style Fresh Cheese;
- Acatlan Queso Fresco, Fresh Cheese;
- Mi Quesito Mexicano, Mexican Cheese; and
- Quesillo Ecuatoriano, Ecuadorian Style Cheese.
Listeria monocytogenes can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections. Pregnant women are among those who are most susceptible, although they may only experience flu-like symptoms, Listeria can cause miscarriage, stillbirth or birth defects in newborns of mothers who were ill. Others at high risk are young children, the elderly and those with compromised immune systems.
Symptoms of Listeria infection, called listeriosis, include high fever, severe headaches, muscle stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea. Anyone who has eaten this cheese and develops these symptoms should contact a health care provider. So far, no illnesses have been reported with this recall.
Mexicali Cheese has been plagued with food safety problems since 2010, as Food Poisoning Bulletin has previously reported. As recently as May 1, 2012, the company was ordered by a consent decree signed by Judge John Gleeson in the Eastern District of New York to stop “receiving, preparing, processing, packing, holding or distributing any articles of food until it has completed FDA-approved measures to correct deficiencies, decontaminate their facility and comply with the law. The company must also hire an outside sanitation expert to ensure that the company’s food processing procedures are safe. The firm may not resume operations until it receives FDA’s permission.”
PMI Nutrition International is recalling four types of LabDiet® and Mazuri® animal feed products listed below because they may contain elevated vitamin D levels, which can be harmful to animals.
- Guinea Pig Diet 50#
- Item number 0001330
- Lot number APR17122
- Formula number 5025
- Mazuri® Small Bird Maintenance 25#
- Item number 0001452
- Lot number APR15123
- Formula number 56A6
- Mazuri® Primate Maintenance Biscuit 25#
- Item number 0040996
- Lot number APR22122
- Formula number 5MA2
- Mazuri® Maned Wolf Diet 33#
- Lot number APR21122
- Item number 0011482
- Formula number 5MD9
The lot numbers are formatted as follows: APR = month; 17 = Day of Month; 12 = Year; 2 = Plant code. The recall was initated after customer complaints, which included animal illness and some small bird deaths. You can see all of the product labels at the FDA site.
If you have purchased this product, you can get a refund. For more information on the recall call Customer Service at 1-855-863-0421 extension 224 Monday through Friday from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm EDT.
Fruiti Pops Inc. is recalling 178 dozen Fruiti Pops because they may contain egg yolk, one of the major food allergens, that is not declared on the label.
- Fruit Pops Classic Coconut Frozen Dessert
- 4 ounce size
- Distributed in Southern California
- Sold by push cart vendors and ice cream wtrucks
- Distributed between June 25, 2012 and June 28, 2012
- Clear polypropylene packaging
- Not labeled with lot numbers or expiration dates
- UPC number is 763734 000011 on the back of the wrapper
No illnesses have been reported to date in association with the consumption of this product. No other flavors of Fruiti Pops or any other Fruiti Pops products are affected by this recall. If you have purchased this product and are allergic to, or sensitive to, egg, you may return it to the place of purchase for a refund.
For questions, call the company at 52-404-2568 Monday through Friday from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm.
Articles of Interest
Industry Voluntarily Withdraws C8 Greaseproofing Agents From Market
The FDA announced today that manufacturers of five greaseproofing agents known as C8 compounds have voluntarily withdrawn them from the marketplace. Those compounds are used as coatings on paper wrappers and containers which come into contact with food. They are found on fast-food wrappers, microwave popcorn bags, pizza boxes, and pet food bags and are used to prevent grease from foods from leaking through packaging.
The compounds are perfluorinated grease proofing agents. Perfluorinated compounds (PFC) have had all the hydrogen molecules on a carbon chain replaced by fluorine. One common PFC is perfluorooctanoic acid, which is used to make Teflon.
Scientific studies have shown that C8 compounds persist in the environment and can be toxic to humans over time. Almost every person has traces of perfluorinated chemicals in their bodies. In January, we told you about a study that found PFCs can compromise human immune systems. The FDA initiated a review of the data on C8 compounds last year, and the manufacturers volunteered to stop distributing the compounds on October 1, 2011.
There are still products with C8 in the marketplace, but the FDA says that “these products will be out of the marketplace in a relatively short period of time.” The Agency is going to conduct a market survey of food packaging to make sure that C8 compounds are not used in material that comes in contact with human or animal food.
Publisher’s Platform: 14 Pathogens cost us $4B to $33B Yearly
An article entitled, “Annual Cost of Illness and Quality-Adjusted Life Year Losses in the United States Due to 14 Foodborne Pathogens,” which appears in this month’s Journal of Food Protection, again points to the personal and societal costs of food that went bad.
The article, written by Sandra Hoffman, Michael Batz and J. Glenn Morris, focuses on 14 of the 31 major foodborne pathogens reported on by Scallan et al. in an issue of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s publication, Emerging Infectious Diseases, based on the incidence estimates of foodborne illness in the United States. According to the Scallan paper, these 14 pathogens account for 95% of illnesses and hospitalizations and 98% of deaths due to identifiable pathogens. Scallan et al., yearly estimates in 2011: 48,000,000 sickened, 125,000 hospitalized and 3,000 deaths.
The pathogens focused on in the Hoffman article were Campylobacter, Clostridium perfringens, Cryptosporidium, Cyclospora, E. coli O157:H7, STEC non-O157, Listeria, norovirus, Salmonella, Shigella, Toxoplasma, Vibrio, and Yersinia. The authors estimated that these 14 pathogens cause $14.0 billion (ranging from $4.4 billion to $33.0 billion) in cost of illness. They also estimate that 90% of this loss is caused by five pathogens: nontyphoidal Salmonella enterica ($3.3 billion), Campylobacter spp. ($1.7 billion), Listeria monocytogenes ($2.6 billion), Toxoplasma gondii ($3 billion), and norovirus ($2 billion).
European Meat and Poultry Inspection Inadequate, EFSA Says
Europe’s meat and poultry inspection methods don’t do enough to address the threat of foodborne illness and should be modernized, according to The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).
The EFSA’s scientific opinion, published June 29, is part of a response to European Commission’s May 2010 request that the organization investigate the correlation between meat inspection and public health.
The EFSA was asked to identify and rank the main public health risks associated with the current inspection system and pinpointed Campylobacter, Salmonella, and β-lactamase bacteria as primary targets.
In an analysis of foodborne illness outbreaks among the 27 European Union members, EFSA found that Salmonella and Campylobacter were were often detected in fresh broiler meat. In 2010, 99,020 cases of human Salmonella infection and 212,064 cases of human Campylobacter infection were reported during 2010.
Lake Superior Beaches Closed for E. coli Contamination
The Minnesota Department of Health has recommended No Contact with the water at several beaches along the shore of Lake Superior. The beaches are monitored on Mondays every week during the summer months.
In addition, Minnesota Point 15th Street Harbor Side Beach, Park Point 20th Street/Hearding Island Canal Beach, Park Point Sky Harbor Parking Lot Beach, have high levels of bacteria.
That area recently had severe flooding from heavy summer rains, causing millions of dollars worth of damage. Flooding can wash bacteria from sewage systems into lakes, rivers, and streams.
Do not swim in the water at these beaches. People have contracted bacterial infections from swimming in contaminated waters, and several children have developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a life-threatening complication of an E. coli infection.
FDA Warns Malcore Livestock of Food Safety Violations
John Malcore Livestock, LLC of Luxemburg, Wisc. has committed a number of food safety violations, according to a June 27 warning letter from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. (FDA)
The FDA’s investigation of the livestock operation began after the discovery that, In late December, Malcore Livestock offered an adulterated animal for sale.
“Under section 402(a)(2)(C)(ii) of the FD&C Act, 21 U.S.C. § 342(a)(2)(C)(ii), a food is deemed to be adulterated if it bears or contains a new animal drug that is unsafe under section 512 of the FD&C Act, 21 U.S.C. § 360b. Further, under section 402(a)(4) of the FD&C Act, 21 U.S.C. § 342(a)(4), a food is deemed to be adulterated if it has been held under insanitary conditions whereby it may have been rendered injurious to health,” the letter stated.
The animal cited was found to have drug residue in its tissue exceeding acceptable levels according to an analysis performed by the United States Department of Agriculture, Food Safety and Inspection Service (USDA/FSIS).
Dieting? Artificial Sweeteners May Not Be the Answer
Two studies presented at the June 2012 America Diabetes Association meeting showed that drinking diet pop is associated with weight gain in humans, and with higher blood glucose levels in mice.
Epidemiologists at the School of Medicine at the University of Texas San Antonio looked at the relationship between diet pop consumption and waist circumference. They studied 474 patients over 10 years in the San Antonio Longitudinal Study of Aging (SALSA), which includes elderly Mexican-Americans and European-Americans.
The results of the study were adjusted for diabetes status, physical activity level, neighborhood, age, smoking status, sex, ethnicity, and education. Researchers found that diet soft drink users had a 70% greater increases in waist circumference compared with those who did not consume diet soft drinks. And those who drank two or more diet soft drinks per day had increases 500% larger than non-drinkers.
In the study of blood glucose levels in mice, researchers studied the relationship between aspartame intake and fasting glucose and insulin levels. They looked at 40 diabetes-prone mice. One group was given food with aspartame and corn oil added; the other was given food with just corn oil added.
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