August 31, 2015

USDA Testing Ground Beef for Salmonella; What About E. coli?

On Friday, May 16, 2014, the USDA announced that they are enhancing their food safety testing program for ground beef this summer. The government says that they have safeguards in place to reduce E. coli in ground beef, but are now including tests for Salmonella every time their labs test for E. coli in samples of ground beef and ground beef sources. But an E. coli O157:H7 outbreak in Michigan and Ohio that is associated with undercooked ground beef underscores the fact that consumers must still be vigilant when eating any beef products. It is impossible to test every single portion of hamburger or ground beef sold in this country, so it's important that consumers not eat any undercooked hamburger or rare burgers to protect themselves. Still, this is a significant change in USDA … [Read more...]

Bagged Salad Poses Risk of E. coli O157:H7

Researchers in Tennessee, along with scientists at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have released a study published in Foodborne Pathogens and Disease about the risk of E. coli O157:H7 in bagged salads. An estimated 63,000 STEC O157 infections occur every year in the United States. Recent outbreaks have been associated with leafy greens such as lettuce and spinach. The researchers look at an outbreak of STEC O157 that was associated with bagged salads in institutional settings. The outbreak was in schools, and the case-control study was made up of controls matched by school and grade. Seventeen patients from three states were identified. The median age of a cases was 23 years. Seventy-six percent of the cases were female. Six people were hospitalized and two … [Read more...]

Food Poisoning Benches Mets First Baseman, Phillies Manager

New York Mets first baseman Lucas Duda and Philadelphia Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg say bad burgers from Shake Shack gave them food poisoning last week, according to ESPN.  Both men say the burgers they ate were undercooked. Sandberg says he lost six pounds in two days. Duda, who was hospitalized, missed a game Friday but has since recovered and returned to play. Thorough cooking is needed to kill foodborne bacteria such as E.coli or Salmonella which both cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhea that can be bloody. Hospitalization is required when dehydration or complications develop. There is some dispute over which Shake Shack location was involved. The Mets organization is looking in to it. In a statement to ESPN, a Shake Shack spokesman said the company first heard of the … [Read more...]

US and EU Report Little Progress in Antibiotic Resistance Fight

There hasn't been much good news about antibiotic resistance lately. A couple of weeks ago, a World Health Organization (WHO) report declared it a "problem so serious that it threatens the achievements of modern medicine." Today, the five-year-old partnership between the U.S. and the European Union (EU) called the Transatlantic Taskforce on Antimicrobial Resistance released its first progress report. But, there isn't much progress to report. The problem is big. In the EU, about 25,000 people die from  drug-resistant infections every year. In the U.S. the number of annual deaths is about 23, 000. Thousands more who survive win the battle after lengthy and expensive hospital stays. In the U.S., direct medical costs for treatment of these infections is about $20 billion each year, with an … [Read more...]

Study Discovers How Salmonella May Evade Immune System

A new study conducted at the University of Pennsylvania, and published in the Journal of Experimental Medicine may have discovered how Salmonella bacteria dodge the immune system. This lets them multiply and build up a presence that causes a systemic, or blood, infection. Normally, the immune system recognizes pathogens and releases molecules to kill them. Inflammasomes are a protein complex in animals that finds pathogens and tells the immune system to fight the invaders. The scientists discovered that Salmonella avoids inflammasome activation by "down-regulating flagellin expression". The study's lead author, assistant professor of pathobiology at the School of Veterinary Medicine Dr. Igor Brodsky, said, "we hypothesized that during the systemic phase of disease, Salmonella would have … [Read more...]

Vegas Chinese Restaurants Gamble With Food Safety


Food safety violations at Chinatown restaurants in Las Vegas have prompted a string of recent closures, according to a report from KTNV News. Many of them were for holding food at improper temperatures and storing or preparing food in dirty areas. Keeping hot foods hot and cold foods cold is a basic food safety principle. Cold foods need to be kept at or below 40˚ F and hot foods should be kept at 140˚F or above. Anything in between in considered the "danger zone," because bacteria such as Salmonella, E.coli and Campylobacter can double in number in as little as  20 minutes. On an April 22 inspection, Sam Woo BBQ had 51 demerits. Inspectors found the handwashing sink clogged with an opaque fluid; dirty floors, appliances and shelves; lots of food stored in the danger zone and spices … [Read more...]

Beware the Common House Fly

As anyone who has ever eaten outdoors knows, house flies are very annoying and can ruin a picnic. We've developed methods for controlling them that range from bug zappers to screen shields that cover food. But now there's even more reason for concern. A new study conducted at Kansas State University and published  in Applied and Environmental Microbiology has found that flies may be transferring antibiotic resistant bacteria from farms to people. This troubling finding turns flies from a nuisance into a health threat. Since we know farm animals carry antibiotic resistant bacteria, primarily because they are fed sub therapeutic doses of antibiotics for growth promotion and disease prevention, it makes sense that insects could transfer those pathogens to people. And it turns out that … [Read more...]

Harvard Study Strengthens Link Between Neonicotinoids and Bee Death

A new study conducted at the Harvard School of Public Health and published in the Bulletin of Insectology has found that two widely used neonicotinoids (pesticides) appear to "significantly harm honey bee colonies over the winter." And the colder the winter, the more severe the harm. The study replicated a 2012 finding that found a link between low doses of imidacloprid, a neonicotinoid, and Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) that makes bees abandon their hives and die. A second pesticide called clothianidin has the same effect. The study also found that reduced resistance to mites or parasites because of pesticide exposure is not the issue in CCD, as scientists have suspected. Bees in hives with CCD had "almost identical" levels of pathogen infestation as a group of control hives, most of … [Read more...]

American Academy of Pediatrics: Ban Raw Milk Sales

Raw milk sales should be banned, says the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). That view and others about the risks of raw milk for children, infants and pregnant women are included in the organization's policy statement published in the May issue of Pediatrics. The AAP joins a host of medical, scientific and public health organizations including the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA),  the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the American Medical Association, the American Veterinary Medical Association, the International Association for Food Protection, the National Environmental Health Association, and the World Health Association in endorsing the consumption of only pasteurized milk and milk products for pregnant women, infants, and children. The AAP supports a ban … [Read more...]

CDC: Raw Milk Remains an Ongoing Public Health Hazard

Raw milk remains an ongoing public health hazard, says Robert Tauxe, M.D., deputy director of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC's Division of Foodborne, Waterborne, and Environmental Diseases.  On May 9, Tauxe sent a letter to state epidemiologists and state public health veterinarians saying because of the risks of raw milk, public health officials should consider restricting or prohibiting the sale of raw milk. Almost two years ago, Tauxe sent a nearly identical letter to state public health professionals. Both letters outline the risks associated with raw milk. For example, infections from E.coli can lead to hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) which causes kidney failure. Campylobacter infections can trigger Guillain-Barré Syndrome, which causes paralysis. Between 2007 … [Read more...]

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