April 28, 2015

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...]

No Multistate Food Poisoning Outbreaks So Far in 2015, Six Year Record


It was 2009 the last time we made it this far into the year without a multistate food poisoning outbreak being announced by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Of course, that doesn't mean that one hasn't happened or isn't happening right now, it just means the CDC hasn't told anyone about it. The CDC publishes a list of  "selected multistate food poisoning outbreaks" each year. The rest fly under the radar. For the last five years ,there have been about 10 announced multistate food poisoning outbreaks, with the first one occurring between January and March. Not April, like 2009's first, a  Salmonella outbreak associated with pistcahios. The new year was still new when last year's first outbreak was announced, a Salmonella outbreak linked to cashew cheese. That … [Read more...]

Food Safety Violations Found at Kansas Prisons


Inspections conducted at prisons in Kansas by the Kansas Department of Corrections has found consistent food safety violations in the prison system's kitchens. Almost 340 inspections conducted between January, 2013 and July 2014 at 19 facilities found repeated deficiencies and noncompliance. It is considered cruel and unusual punishment to not take adequate care of prisoners, who are under complete government control. In addition, when outbreaks occur, taxpayer money is then spent giving medical care to prisoners and investigating the problem. Lawsuits against prisons have been filed and won by the families of prisoners who have been sickened in outbreaks at prisons and jails. The violations recorded in the inspections included not keeping proper temperature logs, not having inmate … [Read more...]

New Mexico Caramel Apple Listeria Toll Could Climb


The number of people in New Mexico infected by Listeria from caramel apples could be more than five, a number that only one other state has matched in the ongoing state and federal investigation of a deadly listeriosis outbreak. The New Mexico Department of Health said work is ongoing to identify additional cases in the state. So far, more than one New Mexico baby has been diagnosed with Listeria while other case patients range in age up to 42. "These cases reside in Bernalillo, McKinley, and Lea counties and became ill in October and November,'' according to a caramel apple Listeria health alert from the department. "All were hospitalized and are recovering.'' Of 10 states confirmed by the CDC to be part of this outbreak, only Missouri was reported initially to have as many cases as … [Read more...]

Food Poisoning Can Have Lifelong Health Effects


Every American has had food poisoning at one time or another. Most people dismiss the illness as the "24 hour flu", even though no such illness exists. If you have had diarrhea, vomiting, stomach cramps,  nausea, and fever that passes fairly quickly, you probably had food poisoning. Most people recover fully after these illnesses and don't give them a second thought. But did you know that some people never fully recover from food poisoning? In the UK, a young women who contracted an E. coli O157:H7 infection when she was two years old just learned she needs a second kidney transplant. When she got sick as a child, she was hospitalized with kidney failure after eating a contaminated sandwich. She had a stroke and many serious infections and was on dialysis for four years. She did … [Read more...]

Sprouts to Blame for Two 2014 Food Poisoning Outbreaks

It's been 15 years since a United States National Advisory Committee issued a special report on the problem of pathogen contamination in commercially grown sprouts and the associated outbreaks of E. coli, Salmonella and Listeria that have become a chronic foodborne illness risk for consumers. Based on a pair of multi-state food poisoning investigations so far in 2014, the chances of falling seriously ill or dying from eating contaminated raw sprouts is still a threat. The latest outbreak confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is associated with mung bean sprouts produced in Chicago by Wholesome Soy Products Inc. Two people died and three other case patients were hospitalized in June, July and August from a strain of Listeria monocytogenes traced to the … [Read more...]

Food Poisoning Strikes Charlotte Postal Workers


Fifteen postal workers in Charlotte, NC were taken to taken to the  hospital this morning with food poisoning symptoms after eating leftovers yesterday from a Veterans Day potluck, according to local reports. The employees who received care at  Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center had eaten leftovers from a Veteran's Dat potluck. About 200 employees held a potluck dinner Tuesday night to honor co-workers who are veterans.  Those who became ill, ate the refrigerated leftovers. The bacterial source of the illness has not been identified. None of the illnesses are said to be life-threatening. Delivery and retail operations at the West Point Drive postal facility are expected to continue normally. Potlucks are a frequent source of food poisoning because there are so many … [Read more...]

Inspectors Find Salmonella, Flaws Inside Almond Butter Plant

The MaraNatha almond butter plant linked to a national outbreak of Salmonella Braenderup was observed to have food safety flaws ranging from hard-to-clean floors, imperfect almond-moving equipment, a hand-washing issue and a dirty food-contact surface, according to FDA inspection documents obtained by Food Poisoning Bulletin. The observations of five FDA inspectors cover visits they made to the plant in Ashland, Oregon, from July 15 through August 29. The top finding was a positive result from floor swabs that found Salmonella bacteria under two different cooling towers. The towers handle pasteurized almonds. A variety of MaraNatha brand almond butters were recalled by the inspired Natural Foods plant on August 19 because of potential contamination with Salmonella. Also recalled by … [Read more...]

FoodBorne Chicago Uses Twitter to Track Illness, Find Offenders


Can Twitter be used to identify sources of food poisoning ? FoodBorne Chicago, found success with a trial run and now Boston and New York are considering similar programs. FoodBorne Chicago is a project of the Smart Chicago Collaborative, a civic organization with the goal of using technology to improve the lives. Using an algorithm, FoodBorne Chicago tracked tweets originating from the Chicago area that mentioned food poisoning. During the 10-month study period, March 2013–January 2014,  2,241 tweets mentioning food poisoning originated from the Chicago metropolitan area. Of those, 270 described specific instances of food poisoning, eight of whom said they sought medical attention. Project staffers replied to these tweets saying "Help us prevent this and report where you ate here … [Read more...]

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