July 16, 2018

FDA: Food Poisoning Outbreaks Are Increasing

Food poisoning outbreaks are on the rise, according to the U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA).  And their scope can be be much larger today than ever before. Better detection is one reason for the increase in the number of outbreaks reported annually, but another is the globalization of the food supply, the agency said in report it put together for Public Health Week. In the report, the agency describes how  it does its job and the challenges it faces. Because of the way our system getting food from farm to table has changed, outbreaks can happen in widely separated areas making them difficult to detect. In the caramel apple Listeria outbreak, for example, 35 cases were reported from 12 states- a block of seven states sharing borders in the Southwest: Arizona, California, … [Read more...]

Vilsack Commits to Exempting Mechanically Tenderized Beef Regulation

According to Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack said last week in a congressional hearing that he may suspend the Uniform Labeling Regulation so that the rule for labeling mechanically tenderized beef (MTB) products can be issued. Mechanically tenderized beef is whole cuts of beef that have been pierced with fine blades or needles to break up the connective tissue in the meat. This action introduces bacteria to the interior of the cut, and poses a food safety hazard if the meat is not cooked to 160°F. The MTB labeling rule has been pending for 10 years. Meanwhile, there have been food poisoning outbreaks linked to this product. Two outbreaks, one in 2003 and the other in 2009, caused 174 illnesses and killed one person. And remember that these numbers are only … [Read more...]

Research Shows How E. coli O157:H7 Binds to Produce

New research presented at the Society for General Microbiology's Annual Meeting showed how E. coli O157:H7 binds with plant cells. This lets the bacterium hold on to the plant's surface so it can multiply. And that means that washing produce is not going to easily remove this pathogenic bacteria. Between 20 to 30% of food poisoning outbreaks are linked to contaminated vegetables. Researchers from the James Hutton Institute in Scotland found that E. coli O157:H7 uses flagella, which are thin appendages usually used for movement, to penetrate the plant cell walls. The flagella interacts with fat molecules in the plant cell membranes. Once they are attached, the E. coli bacteria colonize the plant's surface. Most of the bacteria can be removed by washing at this point, but some can … [Read more...]

Consumers Can Help Solve Food Poisoning Outbreaks

Have you ever wondered how food poisoning outbreaks are solved? Consumers play a key role, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Here's how you can help. When you are sick follow these steps. You may help solve the next food poisoning outbreak. Contact the health department. If you think you have food poisoning, contact your local or state health department and let them know. When public health officials can track clusters of people with similar symptoms and exposures, it helps them to identify potential outbreaks. See your doctor. Your doctor can order stool samples and blood tests that can determine if you have an infection from E.coli, Salmonella, Campylobacter, Listeria or other foodborne bacteria. A Pulsed-field Electrophoresis test determines the … [Read more...]

The Largest Multi-State Food Poisoning Outbreaks of 2013

The 11 largest multi-state food poisoning outbreaks of 2013 sickened 1,642 people in 48 states and Puerto Rico. Nine of the outbreaks were caused by food contaminated with bacteria: five from Salmonella, two from E.coli , and one each from Listeria and Vibrio. The other two outbreaks were caused by a virus, hepatitis A and a parasite, Cyclospora. The food sources of these outbreaks included ground beef, frozen berries, salad mix served at restaurants, chicken, cilantro, cucumbers, tahini paste, cheese, raw shellfish, frozen snack foods and prepared salads. Four of the outbreaks were caused by imported foods: Cyclospora from salad greens and cilantro imported from Mexico; Hepatitis A from a frozen berry mix containing contaminated pomegranate seeds imported from Turkey; a Salmonella … [Read more...]

FDA Researches Salmonella Contamination in Tomatoes

After 15 multistate outbreaks of Salmonella food poisoning linked to raw tomatoes from 1973 to 2010, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is researching the fruit's vulnerability to the bacteria. Twelve of those outbreaks have occurred since 2000, resulting in almost 2,000 illnesses and three deaths. Dr. Eric Brown, director of FDA's Division of Microbiology said, "the conditions in which tomatoes thrive are also the conditions in which Salmonella thrive. But the tomato always presented an extra challenge because it is so short-lived. By the time it looked like contaminated tomatoes could be causing illnesses, the harvest would be gone." Government scientists are trying to figure out how to reduce contamination early in tomato production. What  can be done to prevent contamination … [Read more...]

Most Food Poisoning Outbreaks Linked to Restaurants, Delis

Most food poisoning outbreaks are caused by food prepared at restaurants or delis according to a new study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The study, which looked at outbreak data from 1998 to 2008, found that 68 percent of foodborne illness outbreaks were linked to restaurants or delis. And another 7 percent were associated with food prepared at a catering or banquet facility. Recently there have been a number of food poisoning outbreaks associated with restaurants. In late June, a Salmonella outbreak prompted health officials to close Iguana Joe’s restaurant on W. Lake Houston Parkway in Atascocita, Texas. Several people who ate at the restaurant contracted Salmonella poisoning, some of them were hospitalized. A Salmonella outbreak associated with the … [Read more...]

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