December 3, 2022

What FDA Isn’t Saying About an Enoki Mushroom Listeria Recall

When a recent Listeria recall set off some alarm bells at Food Poisoning Bulletin a couple of weeks ago, we asked the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) how banned enoki mushrooms made their way to store shelves.  The answer, it seems, is that the agency is still trying to work that out. A Problematic Recall The FDA doesn't like to use the term "banned," they told us. But a ban is the net effect when the FDA issues a countrywide import alert for a food product. This action means that the agency has gathered enough evidence to show that the product is in violation of FDA laws and regulations and can be detained at the border without physical inspection. In the case of enoki mushrooms from Korea, the evidence includes a 2020 Listeria outbreak in the U.S. that killed four people … [Read more...]

Enoki Mushrooms are the Most Recalled Food of 2022

With one month to go before the end of the year, there have already been 11 Listeria recalls for enoki mushrooms, making them the food most recalled for bacterial contamination in 2022. It wasn't a close contest. Any commodity vying for the distant second-place finish  -cheese, leafy greens, ground beef, has had fewer than half as many recalls so far this year. And there's a decent chance that, before the year's end, there will be a 12th enoki mushroom recall. That's because no recall has been issued in connection with an ongoing enoki mushroom Listeria outbreak. Two years ago, a Listeria outbreak linked to enoki mushrooms from Korea sickened 36 people killing four of them. That outbreak was connected to three recalls and the origin of each one we've seen since. After the deadly … [Read more...]

Did Banned Enoki Mushrooms Make Their Way to Store Shelves?

On November 17, Green Day Produce of Vernon, CA issued a Listeria recall for enoki mushrooms imported from Korea. But why were they on store shelves in the first place? Due to widespread problems with Listeria contamination in enoki mushrooms from Korea, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a countrywide import alert for them four months ago. This action essentially bans the import of all enoki mushrooms from the Republic of Korea. Companies seeking an exemption can submit documentation that the product has been tested and is pathogen-free, but even this does not guarantee that the product will be admitted to the U.S., according to the FDA website's information about import alerts. Firms that meet the criteria for exemption from an import alert are added to a "green … [Read more...]

Do We Care About Cyclospora Anymore?

For the fifth straight year, more than 1,000 Americans developed cyclosporiasis, a parasitic infection, from food sold, and some of it grown, in the U.S. Decades ago, these Cyclospora infections, which are characterized by frequent bouts of explosive diarrhea, were associated with travel to underdeveloped countries with tropical or subtropical climates. But the sharp rise of non-travel-related (NTR) illnesses since 2013 gave birth to a Cyclospora season in the U.S. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) tracks the number of NTR Cyclospora cases reported each season, which runs from May to September, and publishes monthly updates. Here's what those annual totals look like over the last 10 years: Humans are the only known reservoirs for Cyclospora. So when people … [Read more...]

Wendy’s E. coli Outbreak – 53 Sick in Michigan, 8 with HUS

A multistate E. coli outbreak tied to lettuce on Wendy's burgers and sandwiches includes 53 people in Michigan,  Chelsea Wuth, a health department spokeswoman told Food Poisoning Bulletin today. Thirty-one people have been hospitalized, eight of them with hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a form of kidney failure that affects some E. coli patients. Six days ago, the Wendy's E. coli outbreak included 43 illnesses, 24 hospitalizations, and four HUS cases in Michigan, according to an outbreak update from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. And the numbers are expected to rise as results of whole genome sequencing tests from 62 other Michigan residents stricken with E. coli infections since the end of July become available.   "Two things that are really … [Read more...]

Salmonella an Adulterant? National Chicken Council Bawks

The USDA announced plans this week to make it illegal to sell chicken Kiev and other stuffed, breaded, raw chicken products that are contaminated with Salmonella. Declaring Salmonella an "adulterant" in this subset of the vast array of poultry products available to American consumers is a small step forward in the agency's stated goal of remaking its strategy for controlling Salmonella in poultry. But it made big news. Chair of the House Appropriations Committee Rosa DeLauro (CT-03), who is perhaps the greatest champion of food safety in Congress, released a statement calling the announcement a "vital first step to improved protections for the public from foodborne illness." The Centers for Science in the Public Interest, which along with other consumer groups, petitioned the USDA … [Read more...]

What Do Inspection Reports for Big Olaf Creamery Reveal?

Last week, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services  (FDACS) revealed that Listeria had been found in 10 environmental swabs and samples from 16 different flavors of ice cream at Big Olaf Creamery's production plant in Sarasota, FL. The samples were collected after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced on July 2 that epidemiological evidence identified the ice cream as the source of a Listeria outbreak that has sickened 23 people over an 18-month period. One of the patients died and another suffered a miscarriage. Presented with that information, Big Olaf declined to issue a recall. Then a spokesperson for the company issued a statement that deemed the epidemiological information "speculative" and wondered why the company was being unfairly … [Read more...]

Big Olaf Who? Amid Outbreak Shops Ditch Ice Cream, Branding

For Big Olaf, the break-ups came quickly but not all at once. And not all of them quietly. In the two and half weeks since Big Olaf ice cream was linked to a deadly Listeria outbreak, licensed shops throughout Florida started switching to new suppliers. One owner has permanently changed the names of the two stores she operates. Although Listeria isn't as common as other foodborne pathogens. It is the most deadly. And it targets pregnant women, who can suffer a miscarriage or stillbirth if they develop an infection. "Five of the patients in this outbreak are women who contracted listeriosis while they were pregnant," said Eric Hageman, a Listeria lawyer, and Food Poisoning Bulletin Publisher. Hageman has extensive experience with Listeria lawsuits including one filed on behalf of a … [Read more...]

A Recurring Salmonella Strain and a Secret, Deadly Ground Beef Outbreak

Two years before a 2018 Salmonella outbreak linked to ground beef produced by JBS Tolleson triggered one of the largest beef recalls in modern history, another outbreak, a secret and deadly one was linked to the same strain. The deadly 2016 outbreak was never announced and no recall was ever issued because the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (USDA FSIS) said traceback records didn't conclusively point to a single establishment. So, contaminated ground beef was sold to consumers and 106 people in 21 states got Salmonella infections. Forty-eight percent of the patients were hospitalized, and one person died. One year after that outbreak ended, the first illness in the 2018 outbreak was reported. That outbreak, which was publicly announced, eventually … [Read more...]

FDA: Abbott Didn’t Test Similac Samples in Internal Probe of Infant Death

Analysis Contrary to its own operating procedures, Abbott Nutrition completed an internal probe of a fatal Cronobacter case without testing samples of the associated lot of Similac Pro Total Comfort, according to the FDA's 2022 inspection report of Abbott's facility in Sturgis, MI. Federal health officials have been investigating four Cronobacter illnesses, two of them fatal, reported between September 2021 and January 2022 among infants who consumed Similac products made at Abbott's Sturgis plant. Yesterday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released the reports from its three most recent inspections of the Sturgis facility. The reports show that Abbott failed to maintain sanitary conditions at the plant where it makes a variety of infant formulas including some for babies … [Read more...]

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