October 9, 2015

Do You Eat Fish? Learn About Ciguatera Food Poisoning

Whole Grouper from iStockphoto

You don't often hear about ciguatera food poisoning, unless you are part of the fishing industry. This naturally occurring toxin found in fish can cause serious foodborne illness. Cooking does not deactivate the toxin, so even properly cooked seafood can make you sick. In the past few years, there have been several outbreaks and recalls related to this toxin. This type of food poisoning is responsible for the highest reported incidence of foodborne illness outbreaks linked to finfish around the world, according to a study published in Toxicon by Robert Dickey and Steven M. Plakaas. The algae that produces the toxin is usually located in the tropics, but these harmful algal blooms have been occurring in Texas, Florida, South Carolina, and Miami in recent years. As coral reefs deteriorate … [Read more...]

New Research Uses UVC Light on Fruits to Kill Pathogens


New research conducted at Washington State University has found that ultraviolet C (UVC) light can kill foodborne pathogens on the surface of some fruits. This technology may be a good alternative for organic fruit processors who don't want to use chemicals on their products and must comply with the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) standards to help prevent outbreaks. The study was published in the International Journal of Food Microbiology. WSU food safety specialist Shyam Sablani and his colleagues decided to look at UVC light since it has a shorter wavelength than UVA or UVB light. Sablani said in a statement, "UVC radiation is present in sunlight; however, it is completely absorbed by the ozone layer and Earth's atmosphere. It has germicidal properties and can be effective … [Read more...]

Minnesotans Sue Barber Foods Over Chicken Salmonella

Ryan Osterholm

A Minnesota couple has filed the first Salmonella lawsuit against Barber Foods in the latest outbreak associated with Chicken Kiev and other boxed, frozen chicken entres. The Minnesota Department of Health confirmed the connection between the man's salmonellosis and the strain of Salmonella apparent in the outbreak. Pritzker Olsen Attorneys of Minneapolis, a national food safety law firm, filed the suit Thursday in U.S. District Court on the couple's behalf. “The manufacturers of Chicken Kiev and other similar frozen chicken products are in denial about how dangerous their products can be,” said attorney Ryan Osterholm. “This is not the first outbreak linked to these products and won’t be the last unless the industry makes real changes.” The case patient represented in the … [Read more...]

The Cost of Foodborne Illness Varies Dramatically by State

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Foodborne illness costs Americans billions each year, but the cost varies dramatically by state, according to a new analysis by Robert Scharff an economist and scientist at the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center at Ohio State University. Having previously published estimates of the national cost of foodborne illness, Scharff noticed the disparity and looked into further with this study. What he found could help state governments prioritize their resources. Scharff found that the average cost of a case of fooborne illness varies from state to state -$1,666  in Ohio compared with $2,443 in Maryland. But he also found that that the bacterial, viral and parasitic agents that make people sick vary by state, too. Vibrio is a bacteria frequently associated with raw seafood. … [Read more...]

17 Sick After Elgin Golf Outing at Grumpy Goat

At least 17 people have food poisoning after attending a golf outing at Highlands golf course and Grumpy Goat Tavern in Elgin, Ill. About 120 people took part in the outing last weekend. County health officials are trying to contact all of them. Those who became ill reported symptoms including nausea and diarrhea. No one was hospitalized. A health inspector checked equipment in the kitchen and found everything was being sanitized properly and working properly.   … [Read more...]

Blue Bell Listeria Lawsuit Assigned to Judge Lee Yeakel

The nation's first lawsuit filed in the Blue Bell ice cream Listeria outbreak has been assigned to U.S. District Court Judge Lee Yeakel in Austin, Texas. The case centers on the near-fatal illness in Houston suffered by the associate executive director of a 462-apartment continuing care retirement community who regularly ate the type of Blue Bell ice cream that state and federal authorities have linked to the outbreak. D. Philip Shockley, 32, sued Blue Bell Creameries USA Inc. on May 19 in a 35-page complaint prepared by a legal team headed by the national food safety law firm PritzkerOlsen Attorneys. The ice cream lawsuit alleges that Shockley's devastating listeriosis infection was caused by tainted products that Blue Bell made in facilities infested with the bacteria Listeria … [Read more...]

Blue Bell Lawsuit Refers to Via Christi Hospital Outbreak

Via Christi Hospital Listeria Cases

The nation's first Blue Bell ice cream Listeria lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Texas includes details of similarity between a retirement home director in Houston who nearly died of Listeria meningitis and a cluster of five people in Wichita who were striken by listeriosis after eating Blue Bell ice cream while at Via Christi Hospital. All six individuals ate single-serve ice cream products purchased from Blue Bell Creameries Inc. through institutional, or food service, channels. According to a copy of the lawsuit filed by PritzkerOlsen Attorneys on behalf of David Philip Shockley, he repeatedly ate single-serve Blue Bell ice cream products while on the job at a 462-apartment continuing care retirement community in Houston. The 31-year-old man with a masters degree in public … [Read more...]

CDC: 71 Food Poisoning Deaths in 2014


Food poisoning killed 71 Americans last year and sent 4,445 to the hospital, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The news about trends in illnesses associated with various pathogens such as E.coli, Listeria, Salmonella and Campylobacter was a mixed bag. Compared with 2006–2008, the 2014 incidence was: 32 percent lower for Shiga toxin–producing E. coli (STEC) O157; 22 percent lower for Yersinia;  52 percent higher for Vibrio, 13 percent higher for Campylobcater and about the same for other pathogens. While there were fewer illness from Shiga toxin–producing E. coli (STEC) O157 and Salmonella Typhimurium in 2014 than there were in the 2006–2008 and the 2011-2013 reporting periods,  the incidence of non-O157 STEC and Salmonella Infantis … [Read more...]

Blue Bell Plants to Get Intensive Cleaning, Retraining, Re-engineering

Blue Bell Ice Cream Deaths

Blue Bell Ice Cream announced an intensive cleaning, retraining and re-engineering plan to start next week to exterminate Listeria monocytogenes  -- the pathogen that led to a deadly outbreak of listeriosis in Kansas. Three people in Wichita are dead after contracting the disease last year. The FDA and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have linked the illnesses to consumption of milkshakes made from Blue Bell ice cream from Brenham, Texas. Another cluster of listeriosis in Texas has been tied to Blue Bell ice cream made in Oklahoma. The company also has a manufacturing plant in Alabama and recently announced a complete recall of all its ice cream after once again finding the pathogen in line samples of its products. “We intend to make a fresh start,'' said Blue Bell CEO and … [Read more...]

Oklahoma Inspectors Liked Blue Bell Plant Just Before Finding Listeria

Dairy Services inspectors for the state of Oklahoma liked what they saw at the Blue Bell Ice Cream plant in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, just weeks before the company shut down production there and expanded recalls related to an ice cream Listeria outbreak. "Great job,'' "Keep it up!'' and "No violations observed!' were among the remarks written into the report from a March 18 food safety review at the plant, according to an inspection document obtained by The Associated Press under the Freedom of Information Act. A few days earlier, federal health officials had linked Blue Bell ice cream made in Texas to an outbreak of listeriosis that killed three people in Wichita, Kansas. Then, on March 22, Kansas officals informed Blue Bell that they found Listeria monocytogenes in a Blue Bell 3-ounce … [Read more...]

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