June 29, 2016

FDA Issues Details of General Mills E. coli Outbreak Investigation

The FDA has issued details of their investigation into the E. coli O121 outbreak linked to recalled General Mills flour. Flour is not an ingredient most people connect with food poisoning, but it is a raw agricultural product and can be contamianted with pathogenic bacteria. One of the problems with recalls of flour is that many people do not keep this product in its original packaging. Most decant the flour into another container and discard the wrapping. But three people who were sickened in this outbreak kept the flour in its packaging, and helped the government track down the culprit in this outbreak. Multiple signals from the FDA's Coordinated Outbreak Response and Evaluation (CORE) network started coming in. The CDC identified a string of illnesses that started in December … [Read more...]

FDA Too Slow To Issue Recalls, HHS Audit Says

The FDA is too slow to get food companies to recall contamianted products, according to an audit by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). In some cases, firms waited for months before they recalled their products that caused many illnesses. The HHS Office released a report that states "we found that the FDA did not have an efficient and effective food recall initiation process that helps ensure the safety of the Nation's food supply. Specifically, FDA did not have policies and procedures to ensure that firms or responsible parties initiated voluntary food recalls promptly. This issue is a significant matter and requires FDA's immediate attention." FDA relies on firms to recall food that can be harmful to the public health. The government did not have the authority to … [Read more...]

Legionnaires’ Outbreak at Meadowbrook Inn & Suites in NC; 3 Sickened

The source of a Legionnaires’ disease outbreak that has infected three guests at Meadowbrook Inn & Suites in Blowing Rock, North Carolina has not yet been identified, according to the Appalachian District Health Department (AppHealthCare). The health department has released a public health advisory to alert visitors to the mountain resort community about this recent outbreak. According to this advisory, the three victims all visited the 62-room hotel, located one block from central Blowing Rock, between April 15 and June 15. Each had stayed at the hotel within the 2- to 10-day incubation period in which Legionella bacteria, once inhaled or aspirated into one’s body, develops into full-blown Legionnaires’ disease. All three people were hospitalized, treated, and are now … [Read more...]

Don’t Eat Raw Dough for Food Safety Reasons

The FDA blog is focusing on raw dough today. The government is warning consumers that eating raw dough is risky and could give you food poisoning. While most people think that part of making cookies and cake is eating the raw dough or batter, you could get sick. Kids are especially vulnerable to serious complications from food poisoning, including kidney failure and death. The E. coli O121 outbreak linked to General Mills flour is a case in point. Flour is a raw agricultural product that can harbor pathogenic bacteria. Heat is the only thing that will kill those bacteria. A government investigation found that raw dough eaten or handled by some of those sickened was made with General Mills flour produced in their Kansas City, Missouri facility. Bacteria in a flour sample was linked to … [Read more...]

Legionnaires’ Disease Strikes 2 (Possibly 3) Guests at WorldMark Kapa`a Shore Resort

Hawaii’s Department of Health recently released a statement to Hawaii News Now alerting the public that at least two guests at the WorldMark Kapa`a Shore Resort contracted Legionnaires’ disease between late April and early May of this year. The two confirmed cases, according to Hawaii Department of Health spokesperson Janice Okubo, are recovering from the illness in their home states. The health department is still investigating a third possible case.   Legionnaires’ disease is a potentially fatal disease that occurs when people breathe in water vapor or aspirate potable water contaminated with Legionella pneumonia bacteria. Common sources include hotel hot tubs / spas, drinking fountains, architectural water features, cooling towers, and heating / cooling … [Read more...]

You Can Help Solve Foodborne Illness Outbreaks

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued a press release detailing how people can help detect and solve food poisoning outbreaks. Every year, about 1 in 6 Americans (48,000,000 people) get sick from a foodborne illness. While most of these cases are individual, some are part of larger outbreaks. If a large number of people are sick in a given period and area, it's called a cluster. A cluster is an outbreak when investigations reveal that the bacteria that made them sick is the same. The CDC uses epidemiologic, traceback, and environmental investigations to help solve these outbreaks. Finding the source of the outbreaks is critical to ending it and to make sure that more people don't get sick. There are currently several active multistate foodborne illness … [Read more...]

Botulism from Prison Hooch Sickens 17 Inmates in Mississippi

Botulism in homemade alcohol, also known as prison hooch, has sickened 17 inmates at the Yazoo City Medium Security Federal Correctional Institution (FCI) and one case at the Federal Transfer Center (FTC) in Oklahoma City, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons. The inmate at FTC Oklahoma drank the poisonous mixture before transferring to the Oklahoma City facility. Health officials believe inmates mixed vegetable and fruit scraps with sugar and water in an attempt to make alcohol. Fifteen inmates remain hospitalized,  two have returned to the Yazoo facility. Botulism is caused by a nerve toxin produced by the bacteria Clostridium botulinum which is found in soil and dust. Because it causes paralysis which eventually affects the muscles used to breathe, it can be fatal if … [Read more...]

Pho 75 Aurora Colorado Restaurant E. coli Outbreak Confirmed

Jan Stapleman, Deputy Director of Communications for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, confirmed to Food Poisoning Bulletin in an email that they are investigating an outbreak of E. coli linked to the Pho 75 restaurant in Aurora. Four people have been sickened in this outbreak, and one person was hospitalized. The restaurant has been closed by the health department, and the email stated that "there is no continuing threat to the public." The person who was hospitalized is a teenager whose kidneys started to fail. Thankfully, he is on the mend. The Tri-County Health Department is asking members of the public to take a short, confidential survey as part of their investigation into the outbreak. Anyone who ate at the restaurant or got take-out between May 24 … [Read more...]

FDA Finds E. coli O121 in Bag of Gold Medal Flour

The FDA has released a statement confirming that they found E. coli O121 isolates from an open sample of General Mills flour belonging to a consumer who was sickened with the pathogenic bacteria. The government used whole genome sequencing to analyze the E. coli bacteria. The isolate was closely genetically related to the clinical isolates taken from sick people. The flour came from a lot that General Mills has recalled. At least 38 people in 20 states have been sickened with the outbreak strain of E. coli O121. Ten people have been hospitalized because their illnesses are so severe. Some of those who got sick had eaten or handled raw dough. The case count by state is: Alabama (1), Arkansas (1), Arizona (2), California (1), Colorado (4), Iowa (1), Illinois (4) Massachusetts (2), … [Read more...]

Before Listeria Outbreak, CRF Uncooperative with FDA, Documents Show

Updated June 15 Before being linked to a multistate Listeria outbreak that includes eight illnesses and two deaths, CRF Frozen Foods was reluctant to cooperate with inspectors from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and was advised of legal sanctions available to the agency if the firm did not correct serious deficiencies, documents released this week by the agency reveal. On April 23, CRF Frozen Foods issued a recall of 11 frozen vegetables for possible Listeria contamination. On May 2, 2016, CRF expanded the recall to include all organic and traditional frozen vegetable and fruit products processed in its Pasco, Washington facility since May 1, 2014. The expanded recall, includes 358 consumer products sold under 42 separate brands. On May 3, the company was linked to a … [Read more...]

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