June 20, 2024

Confusion Over Enoki Mushroom Recall Due to So Much Listeria

The FDA's announcement this week that it had identified the source of an enoki mushroom Listeria outbreak was a breakthrough in an investigation that has seemed dormant for months. But it was also something of a headscratcher. On January 17, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that enoki mushrooms imported from China and distributed in the U.S. by Utopia Foods, Inc. of Glendale, NY were the source of the outbreak. The significant development in the investigation was a long time coming. It was the first outbreak update the agency has issued since late November 2022. But the weird thing was Utopia enoki mushrooms were recalled for Listeria last month. The recall, issued on December 13, 2022, stated that the problem was discovered during routine sampling conducted in … [Read more...]

The FDA’s “Best” Worst Warning Letters of 2022

When the FDA discovers that a company has significantly violated federal regulations, the agency issues a warning letter. These letters enumerate some of the key violations and instruct the offender to devise and execute a plan to correct them within a designated timeline. All of these letters deal with serious food safety violations - filth, pests, bacteria, but some really stand out. Here are some of the notable warning letters the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) sent in 2022. "A History of Infestation" Dollar Tree Inc. This letter, sent November 8, 2022, pertains to an FDA inspection that took place January 11 - February 11, 2022, at Family Dollar Distribution Inc., located at 1800 Family Dollar Parkway, West Memphis, AR. At that time, the facility stored and distributed … [Read more...]

2022 Meat and Poultry Recalls Far Below Average

In-depth analysis from Food Poisoning Bulletin Meat and poultry producers issued 46 recalls last year, a number far below the pre-pandemic four-year average of 126, according to a Food Poisoning Bulletin review of meat and poultry recalls published by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (USDA FSIS). Since 2010, the only year with fewer recalls was 2020 when there were plant closures due to COVID outbreaks. Not surprisingly then, the number of recalls for bacterial contamination by one of the three major pathogens – E. coli, Salmonella, and Listeria was also the lowest since 2010 excluding the first year of the pandemic. The four-year average for these recalls before the pandemic was 26. In 2022, there were just nine recalls for meat and poultry … [Read more...]

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...]

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