October 6, 2020

Learn How Romaine Lettuce Is Contaminated with E. coli O157:H7 Bacteria

With many E. coli O157:H7 outbreaks linked to romaine lettuce in 2017, 2018, and 2019, food safety experts are concerned that another outbreak could occur in 2020. Let's take a look at how romaine lettuce is contaminated with E. coli O157:H7 bacteria in the first place. That pathogen exists in the guts of ruminant animals, more specifically, cows and sheep. Deer can also carry it. How does it travel from those animals to farm fields? There are several factors that come into play here. First, many concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) are located near fields where romaine and other leafy greens are grown. Second, feces can contaminate ground water and canals that are a source of irrigation water. And third, two of the physical attributes of the lettuce play a role. E. … [Read more...]

FDA Proposes New Rule For Food Traceability For High Risk Foods

The FDA has proposed a new rule for food traceability to help control food poisoning outbreaks. The proposal is part of the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2011. The additional traceability record keeping requirements may help "prevent or mitigate foodborne illness outbreaks and addresses credible threats of serious adverse health consequences or death." The rule is a key element of the FDA's New Era of Smarter Food Safety Blueprint. The key part of this rule is the requirement that food manufacturers, processors, packers, and distributors must establish and maintain records that contain Key Data Elements (KDEs) associated with different Critical Tracking Events (CTEs). The requirements only apply to foods on the Food Traceability List (FTL), but are designed to work for all … [Read more...]

Status of Peach and Onion Salmonella Outbreaks in United States?

You may have forgotten about this by now, but what is the status of the peach and onion Salmonella outbreaks in the United States? Both of those items; Wawona peaches and Thomson International red onions, are linked to multistate outbreaks, and neither investigation has been updated by the CDC or FDA in weeks. The Salmonella Newport outbreak that is linked to red onions produced by Thomson International has sickened at least 1,012 people in 47 states. One hundred thirty six people have been hospitalized because they are so sick. That outbreak investigation has not been updated since August 18, 2020. Another outbreak that is linked to the U.S. outbreak, also connected to Thomson International red onions, has sickened at least 506 people in seven provinces in Canada. Public Health … [Read more...]

Logan County Salmonella Outbreak in Colorado Sickens 17

A Logan County Salmonella outbreak in Colorado has sickened at least 17 people, according to a news report in the Sterling Journal-advocate. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment states that the cluster of Salmonella infections is in northeastern counties in the state. The outbreak is being investigated along with the Northeast Colorado Health Department. The illness onset dates range from August 1, 2020 and September 17, 2020. Eleven of those seventeen cases are in Logan County. The typical number of Salmonella illnesses in those six counties is less than 12 in August and September. Public health officials have not determined a single common exposure for all of the cases. The investigation is ongoing. Salmonella is a reportable illness, so doctors will report … [Read more...]

Indiana Salmonella Outbreak at La Aldea Grocery Store in West Lafayette

A Salmonella outbreak at La Aldea Grocery store, located at 2801 Klondike Road #D in West Lafayette, Indiana has sickened an undetermined number of people, according to a press release from the Tippecanoe County Health Department. Officials are telling anyone who ate or drank anything from that store from September 7, 2020 to September 17, 2020 to monitor their health for the signs of a Salmonella infection. The press release did not specify how many people were sick, if anyone has been hospitalized, or what if any foods may be implicated in this outbreak. Since Salmonella can spread through contaminated food and drink as well as through person-to-person contact, we don't know if the outbreak is linked to a food or beverage or an ill employee. If you ate foods or drank beverages … [Read more...]

Texas Court Sentenced Blue Bell Creameries; Will Pay $17.25 Million in 2015 Listeria Outbreak

A federal court in Texas has sentenced Blue Bell Creameries   to pay $17.5 million in criminal penalties in association with the deadly 2015 Listeria monocytogenes outbreak that killed three people who lived in Kansas. The company allegedly shipped contaminated product to hospitals where patients who were already susceptible to infection ate the ice cream in milkshakes and ice cream cups. In May 2020, Blue Bell pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor counts of distributing adulterated ice cream products. The $17.25 million fine and forfeiture is the largest ever criminal penalty in a food safety case. Judy McMeekin, Pharm.D., Associated Commissioner for Regulatory Affairs in the FDA, said in a statement, "The health of American consumers and the safety of our food are too important to … [Read more...]

FDA Issues the First Injunction Under the Produce Safety Rule

The FDA has issued its first injunction under the Produce Safety Rule against a company that makes sprouts and soy products. That Rule, which was part of the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2011 and was finalized on January 26, 2016, gives the FDA power to issue consent decrees of permanent injunction against corporations for violating safety standards. The Produce Safety Rules mandates that sprout operations take measures "to prevent the introduction of dangerous microbes into seeds or beans used for sprouting; test spent sprout irrigation water (or, in some cases, in-process sprouts) for the presence of certain pathogens; test the growing, harvesting, packing and holding environment for the presence of the Listeria species or Listeria monocytogenes; and take corrective actions … [Read more...]

Canadian Red Onion Salmonella Outbreak Grows Again: No Change in U.S.

The Canadian red onion Salmonella outbreak has grown again, but there is no change in U.S. numbers. The United States outbreak has not been updated by the CDC or FDA since September 1, 2020, when that agency reported at least 1,021 sick in 47 states. Illnesses in both countries have a similar genetic fingerprint, which means they likely share a common source of infection. Both outbreaks have been linked to onions grown and exported by Thomson International of Bakersfield, California. Red, yellow, white, and sweet yellow onions have been recalled in the U.S. and Canada because of the way onions are grown and processed. Secondary recalls have also been issued for products made with those onions. Onions grown in Canada are not suspected in this outbreak. In Canada, at least 506 … [Read more...]

What Happened to the Fresh Express Bagged Salad Cyclospora Outbreak?

It has been almost a month since the FDA or CDC has updated the Fresh Express bagged salad cyclospora outbreak. The last update in the U.S., published on August 14, 2020, listed 690 people sick in 13 states, with Minnesota, Iowa, and Illinois hardest hit. Thirty-seven people have been hospitalized. In Canada, where the last update was posted on July 8, 2020, 37 people in three provinces were sick. Fresh Express recalled products containing iceberg lettuce, red cabbage, or carrots with the product code Z178 or lower in June 2020, with more updates issued later. The salads were sold under several brand names, including ALDI, Hy Vee, Jewel Osco, Walmart, Giant Eagle, and ShopRite. The best by dates on the recalled products ran through July 14, 2020. Based on traceback, the carrots are … [Read more...]

Did You Know Salmonella Outbreaks Linked to Ground Beef Are Common?

People who are familiar with food poisoning outbreaks are used to linking ground beef to E. coli illnesses. And it is true that there have been four multistate E. coli outbreaks linked to ground beef since 2013. But did you know that Salmonella outbreaks linked to ground beef are fairly common? E. coli, especially E. coli O157:H7, lives in the guts of cows. The animals don't get sick from that pathogen. When the cow is slaughtered, the bacteria can escape from the guts and contaminate the meat. When the meat is ground, the pathogen is mixed all through it. Then when burgers are made from that beef and are not fully cooked to 160°F, pathogens can remain active and will cause illnesses. Recognizing that this product can be contaminated with Salmonella, the USDA proposed changes to … [Read more...]

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