April 18, 2019

Consumer Reports Finds Arsenic in Bottled Water

Consumer Reports has found arsenic at unsafe levels in some brands of bottled water. The organization is urging the government to recall those brands and to implement better federal standards for this product. Many people around the country rely on bottled water because their tap water doesn't taste good or they don't trust its quality. Unfortunately, bottled water can have issues and be contaminated with unsafe compounds. One of those compounds is arsenic. Arsenic is found everywhere, in the soil, air, and water, and it is found in groundwater, the source for many bottled water brands. The World Health Organization (WHO) says that, when ingested, arsenic can cause arsenic poisoning, skin cancer, developmental problems, memory problems, diabetes, pulmonary disease, and … [Read more...]

Salmonella Carrau Melon Outbreak: How To Prepare Safe Melons

Ever since the huge and deadly Listeria monocytogenes outbreak that was linked to whole melons produced by Jensen Farms in Colorado, I have been wary of cantaloupes, honeydew, and watermelon. While I did sometimes purchase precut melons, that ended when a Salmonella outbreak linked to precut melons sickened dozens in 2018. The current Salmonella Carrau melon outbreak has increased my resolve. How do you prepare safe melons in this day and age? The problem with this fruit is that the surface of melons is the perfect space for bacteria to grab onto and hold on. Melons, especially cantaloupe, have deep crenelations and a webbed, rough surface. Bacteria love to hide in those nooks and crannies. Even worse, some pathogens can produce a biofilm that covers bacterial colonies, protecting … [Read more...]

FDA Warns Homeopathic Drug Producers For Violations of CGMP

The FDA has sent warning letters to four homeopathic drug producers for "significant violations of current food manufacturing practice (CGMP) regulations." These products are labeled as homeopathic and marketed without FDA approval. The homeopathic industry has grown tremendously in the past several years. The government acknowledges the need to address situations where these products are marketed for serious diseases and the product has not been shown to offer clinical benefits. Products labeled as homeopathic have not been approved by the FDA for any use and may even not meet standards for quality and safety, according to the FDA. These products may be made from plants, healthy or diseased animal or human sources, minerals, and chemicals. They are marketed as natural, safe, and … [Read more...]

Did the Last Thing You Ate Give You Food Poisoning?

Whenever anyone gets sick with a foodborne illness, the question is what food made them sick. Did the last thing you ate give you food poisoning? The answer, surprisingly, is probably not. Bacteria that cause food poisoning have incubation periods. During that time, the bacteria grows and some produce toxins and your immune system starts to respond. The response is what causes the symptoms. It can take some time for the symptoms of food poisoning to develop, depending on the pathogen. These incubation times are one reason why tracking the source of a food poisoning outbreak can be so difficult. First, investigators must interview patients and ask them what they ate in the past week. And second, it's difficult for patients to remember what they ate in the past week. These are … [Read more...]

Mexican Papayas Still on Import Alert For Salmonella Contamination

Mexican papayas are still on the FDA Import Alert list for possible Salmonella contamination, after a 2017 outbreak that sickened at least 251 people across the country with nine strains of the pathogen, including Thompson, Kiambu, Anatum, Agona, Gaminara, Urbana, Newport, Infantis, and Senftenberg. That outbreak began in March 2017 and ran through October 2017. Another Salmonella outbreak, that time Salmonella Agona, linked to Mexican papayas sickened more than 100 people in many states. Mexico produces 11% of the world's production of papayas, but about 65% of all of the papayas imported into the U.S. are from Mexico. The fruit is imported from the Mexican states of Jalisco, Colima, Chiapas, and Veracruz. The FDA document state that "Evidence shows there is widespread … [Read more...]

What Are the Long Term Consequences of Food Poisoning?

Since 48,000,000 Americans are sickened with food poisoning every year, it's a safe bet to say that every American has had food poisoning at least once during their life. We are all aware of the symptoms of these illnesses, from E. coli O157:H7 to Salmonella to Listeria monocytogenes. But when you recover, should you still be concerned? Yes. All of these illnesses can lead to long term consequences. And each pathogen has its own set of health issues that can arise weeks, months, or years after recovery. That's why it's a good idea to have these illnesses recorded on your medical chart. E. coli O157:H7 This pathogen can cause the most serious illness. If a person contracts this infection, they may develop hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), which is a type of kidney failure. Shiga … [Read more...]

Minnesota DOH Evaluating Microbes in Public Water Supply Wells

There is evidence of viruses, bacteria, and protozoan parasites in water from some of Minnesota's public water supply wells, according to a news release issued by the Minnesota Department of Health. Officials don't see any pattern of illness associated with this problem, but there is a need for more study. Health officials want to discover how and when the pathogens enter the wells and if there is a health risk for people who drink that water. This project was funded through the state's Clean Water Fund. Minnesota Commissioner of Health Jan Malcolm says "Safe drinking water is essential for Minnesota’s health and prosperity, and we are fortunate to have a strong team of local and state partners working to catch potential threats early. More work is needed to determine how best to … [Read more...]

Oskri Sells Nut Butter Plant After Listeria Monocytogenes Recall

Oskri Organics Corporation at 528 Tyranena Park Road in Lake Mills, Wisconsin, sold the building where they made nut butters and snacks after all of their products were recalled in January 2019. In addition, the brands Inspired Organics and Thrive Market nut butters were recalled in December 2018 and January 2019 for possible Listeria monocytogenes contamination. Oskri made the nut butters for those companies. All 19 of the company's nut butters were included in that January recall. No illnesses have been reported to date in connection with this problem. The company now uses a facility in Ixonia to produce the nut butters, but City Manager Steve Wilke told the Lake Mills Leader that the company "is looking for other uses of the building." Listeria monocytogenes bacteria is … [Read more...]

EPA Wants to Spray Antibiotics to Stop Citrus Greening Disease

Advocates from environmental and public health groups have delivered a petition to the Environmental Protection Agency asking them to delay a proposal to spray antibiotic on citrus fields to treat a pathogen that causes citrus greening disease, according to the Center for Biological Diversity. Advocates think that this action could make bacterial antibiotic resistance worse. Citrus greening is a bacterial disease. Florida citrus trees are being destroyed by this pathogen and have been for more than 10 years. The pathogen is spread through an invasive insect. The bugs move through the tree's vascular tissue under the bark. Steven Roach, a senior analyst at Keep Antibiotics Working, said of the plan,"They are doing a huge experiment with limited monitoring." Officials estimate that … [Read more...]

New Dates For Implementing Agricultural Water Produce Safety

FDA's Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb and Deputy Commissioner Frank Yiannas have addressed advancing new tools and science for produce safety via agricultural water, and have set new dates for implementation. The two E. coli O157:H7 outbreaks that were linked to romaine lettuce in 2018 were allegedly caused by contaminated agricultural water. In early 2018, 210 people were sickened in an E. coli O157:H7 outbreak linked to romaine lettuce grown in the Yuma, Arizona region of the country. Ninety-six people were hospitalized, and 27 developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), which can cause kidney failure. Five people died. This outbreak was the largest of its kind since 2006. The outbreak strain was found in canal water in the area. And in late 2018, romaine lettuce grown in … [Read more...]

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