April 28, 2017

CDC Study Looks at Restaurant Food Allergy Practices

As part of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report for the week of April 21, 2017, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has published a study about food allergy practices in restaurants across the country. Food allergies affect about 15,000,000 people in this country and cause about 30,000 emergency department visits and 150 to 200 deaths every year. Almost half of the fatal food allergy reactions over a 13 year period were caused by food from a restaurant or other food service establishment. The report found that fewer than half of members of the restaurant staffs surveyed in 278 restaurants had received training on food allergies. And although most restaurants list ingredients or recipes for some menu items, few have separate equipment or areas that are designed … [Read more...]

CDC Releases Data on Foodborne Illnesses and CIDTs 2013 – 2016

In the latest issue of CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, a report studied the incidence and trends of infections of foodborne pathogens from 2013 - 2016. The report also looked at the effect of the increasing use of culture-independent diagnostic tests (CIDTs) on pathogen surveillance. Overall, the 2016 incidence of confirmed Campylobacter infections was lower in the United States, but incidences of confirmed Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC), Yersinia, and Cryptosporidium infections were higher. But the report states that culture-independent diagnostics tests (CIDTs) are complicating this data, because testing for pathogens may be occurring more frequently using this method.  In 2016, FoodNet, the CDC's Foodborne Diseases Active Surveillance Network, identified … [Read more...]

Outbreaks Linked to Imported Foods Are Increasing

A study published in the March edition of the CDC's Emerging Infectious Diseases reveals that more Americans are being sickened by imported food. The study's authors state that "a small but increasing number of foodborne disease outbreaks [are] associated with imported foods, most commonly fish and produce. New outbreak investigation tools and federal regulatory authority are key to maintaining food safety." About 19% of the food we eat in this country is imported. About 97% of the fish and shellfish we consume, 50% of fresh fruits, and 20% of fresh vegetables come from other countries. This proportion has steadily increased over the past 20 years because consumers want to eat produce out of season and want a wider selection of products. A food poisoning outbreak is two or more … [Read more...]

CDC Releases Final Report on Winnable Battles Program

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released the final report on the Winnable Battles program, which is an effort to make the biggest health impact for the most Americans in the shortest time. The program tackled seven threats to public health where they believed they could make an immediate impact: Tobacco; Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity; Food Safety; Healthcare-Associated Infections; Motor Vehicle Safety; Teen Pregnancy; and HIV. The project was launched in 2010. Progress on some of these fronts were significant. But the battle against food poisoning yielded mixed results. In food safety, illnesses caused by some pathogens decreased significantly, while others have kept increasing. Every year, 1 in 6 Americans gets sick by eating contaminated food … [Read more...]

CDC Develops FoodNet Fast For Consumers to Track Outbreaks

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has developed an interactive online program so consumers can track foodborne illness outbreaks over a 20 year period. The tool is called FoodNet Fast. The database includes confirmed cases of infection reported to FoodNet, which is the CDC's Foodborne Disease Active Surveillance Network. It includes outbreaks from 1996 through 2015. People can search by year, pathogen, age group, sex, and race. To develop the database, officials used surveillance from FoodNet in 10 sites for infections of nine pathogens that are commonly transmitted through food, and also for hemolytic uremic syndrome, a complication of E. coli infections that can cause kidney failure. The database also tracks how the rates of illness for Campylobacter, … [Read more...]

CDC Updates Hepatitis A Outbreak Linked to Frozen Strawberries

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is updating its investigation into the hepatitis A outbreak linked to frozen strawberries imported from Egypt. As of October 17, 2016, 134 people with the illness have been reported from nine states. The outbreak case count by state is: Arkansas (1), California (1), Maryland (12), New York (3), North Carolina (1), Oregon (1), Virginia (107), West Virginia (7), and Wisconsin (1). Fifty-two ill persons have been hospitalized. No deaths have been reported. The patient in Oregon purchased smoothies from a Tropical Smoothie Cafe in Virginia while traveling. The outbreak case count is so high in Virginia because Tropical Smoothie Cafe restaurants in that state, as well as in Maryland, North Carolina, and West Virginia, received the … [Read more...]

CDC Spending $67 Million to Fight Antibiotic Resistance

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is going to spend $67,000,000 to help fight the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. That money will go to health departments across the country in all 50 states and Puerto Rico, and to local health departments in six major cities. Those six cities include New York City, Houston, Chicago, D.C., Los Angeles, and Philadelphia. The money will be available to jurisdictions starting today, August 1, 2016. That money will help labs test for multidrug-resistant bacteria and will aid in whole genome sequencing (WGS) of Salmonella, Shigella, and other intestinal bacteria. Officials hope that this funding and new testing will help the government respond more quickly to food poisoning outbreaks. That funding will also help support seven … [Read more...]

General Mills Flour Outbreak Now Includes Two Strains of E. coli

The General Mills flour E. coli outbreak now includes two strains of the bacteria: E coli O121 and E. coli O26.  Initially, only one strain, E. coli O121, was linked the outbreak, which now includes 46 cases in 21 states. But, whole genome sequencing  tests performed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) identified the second strain. Like their better-known relative E.coli O157:H7,  E. coli O26 and E. coli O121 produce shiga toxins that can cause serious illness. In this outbreak, 13 people have been hospitalized and one of them has developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, (HUS) a life-threatening complication of E. coli infections that leads to kidney failure. The new finding prompted General Mills to expand its recall of flours possibly contaminated with E. coli. On May 31, … [Read more...]

CDC: Flour From General Mills KC Plant is Likely E. coli Outbreak Source

Flour produced at a General Mills plant in Kansas City, Mo.  is the likely source of a 20-state E. coli O121 outbreak, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The outbreak, which hospitalized 10 people, triggered a 10 million-pound recall. The recalled flours were sold under the brand names Gold Medal Flour, Gold Medal Wondra Flour, and Signature Kitchens Flour. Consumers who have purchased these products should not use them as E. coli can cause serious illness and death. E. coli symptoms usually develop between two and five days of exposure but can appear within 24 hours or take as long as 10 days to develop.  They include stomach cramps and diarrhea, that is sometimes bloody. Sometimes these symptoms, which last about a week, are accompanied by a … [Read more...]

CDC Study on Retail Deli Slicer Cleaning Frequency

The CDC, in its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report for the week of April 1, 2016 has published a study on how often retail deli slicers are cleaned. Deli foods are notorious for being contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes bacteria. Listeria infections are the third highest number of foodborne illness deaths in the country, after Salmonella and Toxoplasma gondii. Deli meats are a major source of listeriosis illnesses. And once Listeria bacteria are present in a facility, it can be very difficult to eradicate them. Mechanical slicers pose cross-contamination risks in delicatessens. Reducing Listeria contamination of these products in delis will likely reduce Listeria illnesses and outbreaks. Good slicer cleaning practices can reduce this risk. CDC's Environmental Health … [Read more...]

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