September 1, 2014

Raw Milk E. coli Outbreak Shows Importance of Pasteurization


E.coli from raw milk has sickened at least eight people, three of whom have lab-confirmed cases of E.coli O167:H7 infections, according to the Tennessee Department of Health. The outbreak underscores the importance of pasteurization, health officials say. “Some people who consume raw milk because they believe it is healthier than pasteurized milk are putting themselves and others they share it with at risk for a range of serious illnesses,” said TDH Commissioner John Dreyzehner, MD, MPH, in a statement. “Raw milk is 150 times more likely to cause a foodborne illness than pasteurized milk and can be life-threatening to some, particularly the young. Those who consume raw milk are eroding years of progress in reducing dangerous, preventable illnesses.” E.coli and other harmful bacteria … [Read more...]

Diabetics at Special Risk for Food Poisoning


Diabetics are among those a special risk for food poisoning. Because November is American Diabetes Month, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has put together some food safety information for diabetics. Diabetes can affect various organs and systems of the body causing them not to function properly. This makes them  more susceptible to infection. The immune system, the gastrointestinal tract, and the kidneys are all affected by diabetes. Diabetes can affect the body's immune system so that it does not readily recognize harmful bacteria or other pathogens. A delay in immune response can create an increased risk for infection. Diabetes can damage the cells that create stomach acid and the nerves that aid digestion. Because of this damage, the stomach may hold food or beverages for … [Read more...]

USDA Relaxes Regulations for Mad Cow Beef Imports


Last week, the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) announced its intention to publish a rule that would allow some beef to be imported from countries that have experienced cases of mad cow disease. Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) is a progressive neurological disorder that is caused by eating a prion protein from infected beef. The prion is not destroyed by cooking. The agency says this is a "modernization" of import regulations. Food & Water Watch released a statement about this decision. Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director of that agency, said, "This seems to be another case of trade trumping food safety. This development comes as the reopening of beef trade with Europe has been an issue under discussion in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment … [Read more...]

The Nightmare of Antibiotic Resistance

Petri Dish

The National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is alerting the public about the problem of antibiotic resistance during the Foster Farms chicken Salmonella outbreak. Four of the seven strains of Salmonella Heidelberg in that outbreak are antibiotic resistant. While it is true that most of the strains in this outbreak are killed by the front line antibiotics used against that bacteria, research is finding that bacteria that are resistant to drugs are more likely to be more virulent and dangerous to humans. That may be why the hospitalization rate in this particular outbreak is almost twice the average, and why the Salmonella septicemia rate is three times the average. Food Poisoning Bulletin has already told you about the PBS interview with Dr. Arjun Srinivasan of the CDC, who said … [Read more...]

More About the Farm Bill


Now that Congress is back to work (but working only 126 days next year), the Farm Bill is up for negotiations and a vote. That Bill has been stalled for months. The Center for Food Safety details the good and bad provisions in that Bill with the hope that constituents will tell their legislators to keep and reject some portions. You can contact your Senator and Representative about these issues by visiting In the House version, there is a good provision in the Bill to protect honey bees and other pollinators. There has been an alarming decline in honey bee population in the last ten years. Colony Collapse Disorder is linked to pesticides, parasites, pathogens, poor nutrition, and habitat loss. Honey bees fertilize one-third of the crops we eat in the U.S. Unfortunately, … [Read more...]

Jimmy John’s E. coli Food Poisoning Outbreak in Denver, Colorado, Lawyers Investigate

Contact Lawyer Brendan Flaherty

At least 8 people are part of an E. coli outbreak associated with 3 Jimmy John's locations in Denver, Colorado, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE).  One teen remains hospitalized. E. coli lawyers Fred Pritzker and Brendan Flaherty are investigating the Jimmy Johns E. coli outbreak, as are CDPHE, the FDA and the CDC.  At this time the prime suspect is one batch of a produce item. The FDA is doing traceback investigations to confirm this suspicion. The name of the implicated supplier is being withheld. "The more information from Jimmy Johns about the restaurant locations and their suppliers, the better the chances of preventing illness," said attorney Flaherty, who, along with Pritzker, recently won $4.5 million for a young woman who … [Read more...]

What’s in that Halloween Candy?


While buying bags of candy for Halloween this year (and eating a few), I noticed a strange aftertaste in some milk chocolate products. I read the label and saw an acronym I had never seen before. PGPR, or polyglycerol polyricinoleate, is an emulsifier that is used as a substitute for some of the cocoa butter. Cocoa butter is the compound in chocolate that must be in any product labeled "chocolate". But it's also expensive. So candy makers are using PGPR so they can use less cocoa butter and reduce the cost of their raw materials. This artificial ingredient has been used in commercially made candy bars since 2006, when the cost of soy lecithin, another chocolate candy ingredient additive, started increasing. PGPR is a "goopy yellowish liquid" and is made from castor beans. It reduces … [Read more...]

FDA Releases Risk Profile on Pathogens and Filth in Spices

Coscto Salmoenlla pepper

Over the years, there have been recalls for pathogens and filth in spices. The USDA recently completed a report about the risk of Salmonella in imported spices. In that report, scientists found that about 14% of spices from Mexico were contaminated. The FDA has now released a draft profile on the risk of contamination in spices and the steps it plans to take to improve safety. Pathogens found in spices range from Salmonella, Bacillus, Clostridium perfringens, Cronobacter, Shigella, and Staphylococcus aureus. Filth adulterants include insects, excrement, hair, and other materials such as decomposed parts, wood slivers, twigs, staples, stones, plastic, and rubber bands. During the time period of 1973 - 2010, fourteen illness outbreak were attributed to the consumption of … [Read more...]

FDA Files Injunction Against Oregon Dietary Supplement Maker


The FDA has filed a permanent injunction against the dietary supplement manufacturer James G. Cole, Inc., after the company's "repeated distribution of unapproved drugs and adulterated dietary supplements in violation of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act." The company is based in Hood River, Oregon. Melinda K. Plaisier, the FDA's associate commissioner for regulatory affairs, said in a statement, "This company has ignored the multiple warnings they have been issued by the FDA by continuing to make unsubstantiated drug claims about the products it sells and by failing to conform to the cGMP requirements for dietary supplements." In addition, some of the supplements were not manufactured in accordance with the cGMP requirements for dietary supplements. The company has claimed … [Read more...]

Consumer Groups Urge Defense of Country of Origin Labeling


The Consumer Federation of America is urging Farm Bill conferees to defend the 2008 Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) law for beef, poultry, pork, fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables, and some nuts. The National Farmers Union, the U.S. Cattleman's Association, and the American Sheep Industry ASsociation joined in urging Congress to ignore a letter from agribusiness that asked Congress to change the law. Chris Waldrop, Director of the Food Policy Institute at Consumer Federation of America said in a statement, "Ninety percent of Americans strongly support mandatory country of origin labeling for fresh meat and, in fact, want even more information about the meat they purchase. There is no reason for Congress to change this popular law." A recent World Trade Organization decision on … [Read more...]

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