September 21, 2023

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...]

Tips For Handling Flour Safely to Avoid Food Poisoning

When an E. coli O157:H7 outbreak in 2009 was linked to the flour used in prepackaged cookie dough, many people were shocked. How could flour, which seems so innocuous, actually be contaminated with such a serious pathogen? Flour is dry. It seems inert and safe. But flour is a raw agricultural product, and can be contaminated with pathogens just like romaine lettuce. Learn some tips for handling flour safely to avoid food poisoning. Flour is so ubiquitous in the kitchen that many people don't give it a second thought. But an E. coli O26 outbreak last year linked to Aldi's Baker's Corner, Pillsbury bread, and King Arthur Flour sickened 21 people in 6 states. And in 2016, an E. coli O121 and O26 outbreak linked to recalled General Mills flour sickened 63 people in 24 states. Not … [Read more...]

FDA Lists Jimmy John’s Sprout Outbreaks in Warning Letter

The FDA has finally sent a warning letter about Jimmy John's sprout outbreaks in the wake of the latest one: an E. coli O103 outbreak that has sickened at least 22 people in Iowa that is lined to raw clover sprouts produced by Sprouts Unlimited of Marion, Iowa. There are five food poisoning outbreaks linked to that restaurant chain that go back to 2012, and more earlier than that. These are the outbreaks listed in the FDA warning letter: The current E. coli O103 outbreak is linked to 15 Jimmy John's restaurants in Iowa. Clover sprouts from Sprouts Unlimited are the culprit. At least 22 people are sick. Illness onset dates range from November 21, 2019 to December 14m 2019. In 2018, at least 10 people were sickened with Salmonella Montevideo infections after eating raw sprouts … [Read more...]

History of Fast Food E. coli Outbreaks

Food poisoning outbreaks that are linked to fast food have occurred in the past. Most of these outbreaks have been linked to raw vegetables, primarily raw sprouts, although the very first serious E. coli O157:H7 outbreak caused by a fast food product was the Jack in the Box outbreak of 1992 through 1993. The history of fast food E. coli outbreaks is long. The type of E. coli bacteria that causes serious human illness, known as Shiga toxin-producing E. coli, is found in the intestines of ruminant animals. There are many strains of E. coli, but only some cause human illness. The most common E. coli serotype that causes outbreaks is E. coli O157:H7. There are other serotypes, but they are much more rare. Those pathogens, sometimes called the "Big Six" STEC, included O103, O26, … [Read more...]

E. coli Outbreaks in 2018 Sickened 296

Three E. coli outbreaks in 2018 sickened at least 296 people. These outbreaks were linked to romaine lettuce and ground beef. E. coli illnesses are serious because if a patient is under the age of five, they can develop hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), as a complication. That complication can cause kidney failure, strokes, seizures, and death. The E. coli outbreaks of 2018 included the strains O157:H7 and O26. There are six non-O157 E. coli strains that produce shiga toxins. Those toxins travel through the bloodstream, destroying red blood cells, which then clog tiny tubes in the kidneys. They also travel to the brain and can cause strokes. Patients sickened in this outbreak did develop that complication. One hundred twenty seven people were hospitalized, 29 developed HUS, and … [Read more...]

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