April 18, 2014

Feinstein and Durbin Ask USDA to Address Poultry Contamination


Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), and Representative Dick Durbin (D-IL) sent a letter to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack this week, asking him to develop strong performance standards for poultry products to reduce foodborne illnesses. Both Campylobacter and Salmonella should be addressed in the new standards. The USDA is going to publish a new Salmonella standard for poultry parts by September 2014, and for ground poultry products by the end of the year. But the government does not have a timeline for establishing Campylobacter standards for those products. And the recent CDC Food Safety Progress Report states that there has been a 13% increase in Campylobacter infections in the U.S. from 2008 to 2013. The letter states that "it is critical that new … [Read more...]

Food Poisoning Outbreaks Linked To Chicken Liver

Campylobacter chicken liver pate outbreak

A Campylobacter outbreak linked to undercooked chicken liver has sickened at least five people in Oregon and Ohio, health officials say. Although it may seem unusual, this isn't the first time a food poisoning outbreak has been linked to chicken liver. A 2012 Campylobacter outbreak linked to undercooked chicken livers sickened six people in Vermont, New Hampshire and New York. Some of those sickened ate the liver at restaurants, others purchased it from a grocery store and prepared it at home. The six case patients ranged in age from 19 to 87 years old. The median age was 53.5 years. Three of them were male, three were female. Two of  the patients were hospitalized. In 2011, Salmonella in undercooked chicken livers sickened 190 people in six states. The chicken livers were sold at … [Read more...]

Oregon Chicken Liver Campylobacter Outbreak

Campylobacter chicken liver pate outbreak

Undercooked chicken liver is the source of a Campylobacter outbreak that has sickened five people in Oregon and Ohio since December 2013, according to Oregon health officials. Most of those sickened ate the chicken livers prepared as pâté. The case patients from Ohio ate chicken liver pâté while visiting Oregon. The Oregon Health Authority is working with U.S, Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on the outbreak investigation. Chicken livers have been linked  to outbreaks in the past. In 2012, a Campylobacter outbreak linked to undercooked chicken livers sickened six people in Vermont, New Hampshire and New York. In 2011, 190 people in six  states were sickened in a Salmonella outbreak linked to undercooked chicken … [Read more...]

Wrongful Death Lawsuit Alleges Campylobacter Poisoning From Chicken


A  Texas woman has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against a Bush's Chicken franchise in Killeen, TX after her husband contracted Campylobacter poisoning and died. The lawsuit, case number D-1-GN-14000041, was filed in District Court of Travis County, TX. According to the suit, on November 27, 2012, Angela Scurry and her late husband, Morris Scurry, purchased chicken strips at the drive-through window of Bush's Chicken located on 812 38th St. in Killeen.  They ate some on the way home and finished the rest later that night. At 3:00 a.m. on November 28, Ms. Scurry awoke upon hearing her husband vomiting in the bathroom. He also had diarrhea. These symptoms persisted for three hours. Later  that day, shortly after Mr. Scurry said the symptoms had returned, Ms. Scurry found her husband … [Read more...]

Research Maps Campylobacter Chromosomes

Drug-resistant Campylobacter

New research from the Institute of Food Research has mapped chromosomes of Campylobacter. Scientists are trying to understand how this pathogenic bacteria controls its genes to develop new strategies to fight it. In the UK, Campylobacter is the most common cause of foodborne diarrheal illness. The chromosome map shows where all of the bacteria turns on its genes. Those are called transcriptional start sites (TSS).  The bacteria turns on different genes in response to changes in its environment. TSS are also how the bacteria evolved to adapt to new situations. All organisms have these control mechanisms. The scientists used a technique called Differential RNA Sequencing. The high resolution map that was generated shows that Campylobacter has many more TSS than predicted. Scientists … [Read more...]

Untreatable: Today’s Drug Resistant Threats

Drug-resistant Campylobacter

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has just released Untreatable, a new report all about antibiotic-resistant bacteria. The report is the "first-ever snapshot of the burden and threats posed by the antibiotic-resistant germs having the most impact on human health," according to the report. Every year in this country, at least 2 million people are sickened with bacteria that are resistant to bacteria. At least 23,000 of those people die as a direct result of their infections. The urgent threats include Clostridium difficile, while serious threats include drug-resistant Campylobacter (pictured), Salmonella Typhi, and Shigella. All can be passed to human beings through food and water. The CDC states that if the ability to effectively treat common infections is lost, … [Read more...]

Family Cow Raw Milk Sales Resume

Listeria in raw milk

After a Campylobacter outbreak linked to its raw milk prompted a suspension of sales, Family Cow has been cleared by Pennsylvania health officials to resume  raw milke sales.  The outbreak was the third less than two years to be associated with The Family Cow farm in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. In this outbreak, two people who consumed raw milk from the farm developed campylobacteriosis, the infection caused by ingesting the bacteria Campylobacter. In May 2013, at least five people were sickened by Campylobacter in a raw milk outbreak linked to the farm. And in January 2012, the farm was the source of the largest raw milk outbreak in Pennsylvania history. Several people were hospitalized. Raw milk sales are legal in Pennsylvania as long as producers pass mandatory inspections.  But … [Read more...]

Don’t Wash That Bird! Animation Shows Spread of Contamination

Raw Chicken Breast

Remember when we told you last year to not wash turkeys and chickens before you cook them? Washing just spreads pathogenic bacteria around the kitchen. Now there's visual proof of what happens when raw meat is rinsed under the kitchen faucet. Drexel University has launched a new campaign called "Don't Wash Your Chicken" to urge consumers to drop the habit. They  have released a video filmed with what they call "germ vision" that shows how bacteria spread onto adjacent surfaces (and you) when a chicken is rinsed under running water. Oddly, the film focuses on "minority populations", because those groups seem to be more likely to wash raw poultry before cooking. When you wash raw meat under running water, the bacteria "aerosolizes", or becomes airborne, and it can end up three feet … [Read more...]

Campylobacter Raw Milk #3 For Family Cow in PA

Raw milk is the source of a Campylobacter outbreak.

For the third time in 20 months, a raw milk Campylobacter outbreak has been associated with The Family Cow farm in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. Two people who consumed raw milk from the farm have confirmed cases of Campylobacter infection, called campylobacteriosis, according to Pennsylvania health officials. The farm has stopped selling raw milk while the investigation is pending. In January 2012, the farm was the source of the largest raw milk outbreak in Pennsylvania history. Several people were hospitalized. In May, of this year raw milk for the farm was again linked to an outbreak. Campylobacter in the raw milk was the source of each outbreak. After receiving a complaint from a consumer, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture went to the farm on 3854 Olde Scotland Road and … [Read more...]

Chickens From Farmers Markets May Have More Pathogenic Bacteria

Salmonella on Foster Farms chicken has sickened more than 500 people this year.

A study conducted at Penn State has found that raw, whole chickens from farmers markets throughout that state had "significantly higher levels of bacteria that can cause foodborne illness compared to those purchased from grocery stores in the region." Out of 100 whole chickens purchased at farmers markets, 90% tested positive for Campylobacter and 28% for Salmonella. During the same time period, 28% of raw, whole, organic chickens bought at grocery stores had Campylobacter, and 20% tested positive for Salmonella. And 52% of raw, whole, non-organic, conventionally processed chickens from grocery stores had Campylobacter and 8% had Salmonella bacteria. Dr. Catherine Cutter, professor and food safety extension specialist at the University, said, "some people believe that local food is … [Read more...]

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