July 26, 2016

FDA Releases Year 5 Reportable Food Registry

The Reportable Food Registry is released by the Food and Drug Administration every year. It is a synopsis of a one-year reporting period from the Registry. The current edition is the 5th Annual Report: September 8, 2009 through September 7, 2014. The FDA is required to establish an electronic portal. Reports about instances of reportable food must be submitted to the FDA within 24 hours. A reportable food is an article of food or feed for which there is reasonable probability that the use of, or exposure to, such article of food will cause serious adverse health consequences or death to people or animals. The RFR is considered an early warning tool for public health risks and helps the government remove contaminated foods from the marketplace. The RFR covers all human and animal … [Read more...]

E. coli Causes Most of USDA-Regulated Food Outbreaks

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection service (FSIS) regulates meat, poultry, and egg products. That agency evaluated outbreaks associated with meat and poultry through fiscal years 2007 through 2012 to see how many were linked to FSIS-regulated products and which pathogens caused the most outbreaks. Differences in outbreaks from 2007 through 2009 and from 2010 through 2012 were assessed. Of the 163 reported outbreaks used in this analysis, 89, or 55%, were identified as possibly linked to FSIS-regulated products, and 74, or 45%, were definitely linked to FSIS-regulated products. These products were associated with 4,132 illnesses, 772 hospitalizations, and 19 deaths. Shiga toxin-producing E. coli bacteria was associated with 55% of these outbreaks, followed … [Read more...]

Mycobacterium bovis Tuberculosis May be Spread Through the Air

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released a paper published in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report that brings up a possible risk for people who consume imported raw milk products or who eat raw milk products while in other countries. Mycobacterium bovis, a zoonotic pathogen of cattle, causes tuberculosis in people who eat unpasteurized contaminated dairy products in or imported from countries with affected cattle herds. That's bad enough, but scientists now believe that this illness can be transmitted person-to-person through the air. This investigation strengthens the evidence for person-to-person airborne transmission of M. bovis infections. In April 2014, a man in Nebraska who was born in Mexico was diagnosed with extensive pulmonary tuberculosis caused by M. … [Read more...]

Jack and the Green Sprouts MN and WI E. coli Outbreak: Protect Yourself

The FDA has released information on how to select and serve produce safely, which is timely considering the two current outbreaks linked to raw sprouts. An E. coli O157:NM outbreak in Minnesota and Wisconsin has sickened at least 9 people, and a Salmonella Muenchen outbreak in Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Pennsylvania has sickened at least 13. It's worth noting, however, that raw sprouts are an inherently risky product, and your selecting and handling this food may not have any effect at all on their safety. Sprouts can be contaminated from within, so no amount of cleaning on your part will ever make them safe. For other produce, you can follow safe handling tips to protect yourself and your family. And if you choose to eat raw sprouts, these tips may help reduce the risk of … [Read more...]

Yelp Reviews Could Help Detect Food Poisoning Outbreaks

Consumer reviews of restaurants and other facilities on Yelp could help track and prevent food poisoning outbreaks, according to a new study published in Preventive Medicine. Researchers at Virginia Polytechnic Institute looked at reviews on Yelp of 5,824 food establishments from 2005 to 2012, screening customer reviews for relevant keywords, then analyzed every review. This information was compared to data from the CDC for the same time period. The scientists found that illnesses reported on Yelp matched the CDC stats. The Yelp reviews were of 13,262 businesses closest to 29 colleges in fifteen states. Those 5,824 businesses were categorized as Food or Restaurants. Researchers constructed a keyword list using common foodborne illness terms such as "diarrhea", "vomiting", and "puking". … [Read more...]

Two USDA Agencies Collaborate on Outbreak Cause Assessment

Two US. Department of Agriculture agencies are going to collaborate on an effort to assess the root cause in foodborne illness outbreaks in the U.S. Every year in this country, 48,000,000 people are sickened with a foodborne illness, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die. The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) and the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that details the responsibilities and roles of each agency. The assessments include observational study design, questionnaire development, collection of data and samples, and statistical analysis and reporting. Those facets are all included in the investigation of a foodborne illness outbreak. The assessment team will also provide "frequent, descriptive updates" … [Read more...]

Outbreak at Food Safety Summit in Baltimore, MD

An outbreak at the Food Safety Summit held in Baltimore Maryland at the Convention Center earlier in April has sickened an unknown number of people. At least four people told the Baltimore City Health Department that they were sickened after attending the event. Symptoms of upset stomach and diarrhea began about 12 hours after eating a meal on April 9, 2014. Attendees were sent a questionnaire if they were at the event April 8 to April 10, 2014. More than 1,500 food safety professionals were there. Officials have inspected the convention center, along with the food service provider, Centerplate. That facility had no violations during a recent inspection, although they were cited for condensation dripping from an ice machine. The Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene had … [Read more...]

CSPI Says Restaurants Pose Twice the Risk of Foodborne Outbreaks

Outbreak data analyzed by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) says that Americans are twice as likely to get food poisoning from restaurants than from food prepared at home. The review, which covers outbreaks from 2002 through 2011, is titled "Outbreak Alert! 2014". The worst outbreaks of that decade included a Campylobacter outbreak linked to pasteurized milk served to inmates at the California State Prisons. That sickened 1,644 people. In April 2008, Salmonella contaminated jalapeños and Serrano peppers and pepper products sickened 1,535 people in 42 states. And in 2011, Listeria-contamianted cantaloupe produced by Jensen Farms sickened 148 people in 28 states. Overall, 1,610 outbreaks linked to restaurants sickened more than 28,000 people. In that same tie frame, … [Read more...]

Salmonella Ground Beef Outbreak Highlighted Raw Meat Risks

A year ago this weekend, Michigan health officials announced a Salmonella outbreak that would eventually grow to include 22 cases in six states. Among those sickened were diners at at a restaurant in Macomb County, Mich. who ate a raw ground beef dish called kibbe. Kibbe is a Middle Eastern dish made from bulgar, minced onions and ground meat that is often stuffed into croquettes and fried, but is sometimes served raw, as it was at the restaurant that was never named by public health agencies. Raw kibbe seems to be popular in Maycomb County, which includes the cities of Troy and Sterling Heights,  where at least 13 restaurants featured it on their menus at the time of the outbreak compared with one in the  Twin Cities and 21 in New York City. The Centers for Disease Control and … [Read more...]

CDC Electronic Laboratory Reports Improve Outbreak Response

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has been promoting its electronic laboratory reporting (ELR) by the 10,400 labs that send reportable data to health agencies. In the Cyclospora outbreak that is still ongoing, government health officials encouraged doctors and labs around the country to use telediagnosis to speed up diagnoses. CDC has funded 57 state, local and territorial health departments to increase the use of ELR. The number of health departments that are using the system has more than doubled since 2005. State and local departments estimate that almost two-thirds of lab reports were received electronically. When information about a potential foodborne illness outbreak is received and disseminated quickly, the source can be identified more quickly and fewer … [Read more...]

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