June 4, 2023

What is the History of Outbreaks Linked to Flour?

With the newest identified outbreak on the FDA CORE Outbreak Investigation Table a Salmonella Infantis outbreak linked to flour, the question arises: What is the history of outbreaks linked to flour? Because flour is dry and seems so inert, many people assume that it could not harbor pathogens. But flour is a raw agricultural product, and can be contaminated in the field by birds and animals, during harvest, during transportation, and during processing. Many pathogens can survive with very little water. And no "kill step," that is, heating the grain to a temperature high enough to destroys pathogens, is used when flour is processed. That's why food safety experts warn consumers to be careful handling flour, and to avoid eating raw cookie dough and cake batter made with untreated … [Read more...]

Possible E. coli Outbreak at San Diego State University

A possible E. coli outbreak at San Diego State University (SDSU) in San Diego, California has sickened two students, according to the university's Student Health Services. That agency is working with the San Diego County Health and Human Services to try to identify the cause of the illnesses. The pathogen is suspected to be Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC), which produces toxins that can cause serious illness. On September 6, 2022, the university notified their community that the two illnesses had been diagnosed. One student lives at the university and one is non-residential. The students started getting sick on August 27 and August 29, 2022. A specific food source has not been identified in either of the cases. No faculty or staff has been sickened so far. Students can call … [Read more...]

Wendy’s E. coli Outbreak in Ohio Has Sickened 24

The Wendy's E. coli outbreak in Ohio has sickened at least 24 people and has hospitalized six, according to the Ohio Department of Health. Overall, at least 97 people are sick in six states: Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, New York, Indiana, and Kentucky. The 24 cases in Ohio are located in these counties: Wood (10), Lucas (4), Lorain (3), Cuyahoga (2), Mahoning (2), Clermont (1), Franklin (1), and Summit (1). The patient age range in that state is from eight to 82 years old. No deaths have been reported. Ten people in this outbreak in all six states have developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), which is a complication of this type of infection that affects the kidneys, but the Ohio press release did not mention HUS. While a specific food has not been officially linked to this … [Read more...]

History of Fast Food E. coli Outbreaks is Long and Complicated

There is a mystery E. coli outbreak that has sickened dozens of people in Michigan and Ohio. After days of counties reporting the illnesses, the CDC got involved in the investigation yesterday. At least 29 people in those states are sick, and nine patients have been hospitalized. What could be causing this outbreak? We started thinking about the history of fast food E. coli outbreaks over the years. Unfortunately, outbreaks and fast food restaurants are a fairly common combination. There have been many Salmonella, E. coli, and cyclospora outbreaks associated with those restaurants. The main fast food restaurant chains in this country include Wendy's, McDonald's, Jimmy John's, Jack in the Box, Burger King, and Hardees, among others. These are the E. coli outbreaks linked to fast food … [Read more...]

Four E. coli Outbreaks in 2021 Sickened 63 People; Two Were Solved

Four E coli outbreaks in 2021 sickened 63 people and hospitalized 26, according to the CDC. Eight of those patients developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a type of kidney failure that is a complication of that infection. Two of those outbreaks were linked to a specific brand. One was linked to a product, and the fourth was not solved. One of these outbreaks is ongoing. Simple Truth Power Greens E. coli O157:H7 outbreak Ten people in four states are currently sick in this outbreak that is associated with Simple Truth and Nature's Basket Organic Power Greens. The patient case count is: Alaska (2), Ohio (1), Oregon (1), and Washington (6). The patient age range is from 26 to 79 with a median age of 59. The product contains organic spinach, mizuna, kale, and chard. A recall has not … [Read more...]

New Romaine E. coli Outbreak Over As It’s Announced

A new romaine E. coli outbreak is over as soon as it's announced on the FDA's CORE Investigation Outbreak Table. Four people are sickened. The investigation into the outbreak, however, is still considered active. We do not know where the ill persons live, the patient age range, or if anyone has been hospitalized or has developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, a type of kidney failure. The FDA's statement reads, "The outbreak of four illnesses of E. coli O121:H19 (reference# 1050) has been linked to romaine lettuce. The information collected over the course of this investigation indicated that romaine lettuce was the likely source of this outbreak; however, it appears that this outbreak is over, and there is no actionable advice for consumers. FDA has been conducting a traceback … [Read more...]

Four Leafy Greens Outbreaks; How Do You Protect Yourself?

With four leafy greens outbreaks currently ongoing in the United States at this time (and several recalls), how do you protect yourself against foodborne illness? The CDC has some answers. From 2014 to 2018, there were 51 foodborne illness outbreaks linked to leafy greens. Five of those were multistate outbreaks reported to the public. (Most foodborne illnesses are not part of a recognized outbreak, and many are not multistate so the CDC does not cover them.) In 2019 to 2021, there were nine multistate outbreaks linked to leafy greens. And just in the last week of 2021, three of those outbreaks were announced. The current outbreaks are: Josie's Organics baby spinach E. coli outbreak. This outbreak, with illness onset dates ranging from October 13, 2021, to October 27, 2021, … [Read more...]

Three Mystery E. coli Outbreaks in Iowa, Kentucky, and Oregon Unsolved

Since the COVID-19 pandemic started, there have been more unsolved food poisoning outbreaks around the country. In 2020, three multistate E. coli outbreaks that sickened more than 50 people were never solved. This year, there are three mystery E coli outbreaks in Iowa, Kentucky, and Oregon that are unsolved. The Iowa E. coli outbreak in June 2021 sickened several children who live in Maquoketa in Jackson County and has not been solved. The children were hospitalized with hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), which is a type of kidney failure. One little boy had a stroke and was placed in medically induced coma, and was recovering. In Jackson County in Oregon, at least 16 people were sickened with E. coli infections in August. Twelve people were hospitalized because they were so sick. … [Read more...]

FDA Releases Results of Romaine Lettuce Sampling Assignment

The FDA has released results of their romaine lettuce sampling assignment, which was instituted after years of Shiga toxin-producing E coli (STEC) outbreaks linked to that product. The FDA did not detect any pathogens during the assignment. Unfortunately, this is not unusual and doesn't mean that there will not be any more outbreaks linked to romaine or leafy greens. Contamination can be spotty and can vary with weather conditions and the presence of animals in the field. Furthermore, it's impossible to sample every leaf of romaine lettuce. E. coli bacteria tend to clump in small amounts and can be difficult to detect. It only takes 10 of these bacteria to make someone sick. And one head of contaminated lettuce can contaminate many bags of prepared lettuce. In fact, the study … [Read more...]

New Romaine Lettuce Requirements in Canada After Outbreaks

New romaine lettuce requirements have been established by the Canadian government in the wake of multiple E. coli outbreaks linked to that product imported from the United States. This move caught industry off guard. From 2017 to 2019, romaine lettuce from California was linked to E. coli outbreaks in Canada and the United States. The Salinas Valley growing region was identified as a recurring source of some of these outbreaks. So temporary import measures put in place for romaine lettuce have been implemented to try to prevent contaminated food from entering the marketplace. As of October 7, 2020, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) will require importers to either provide proof that romaine lettuce being imported does not originate from counties in the Salinas Valley, or … [Read more...]

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