April 19, 2019

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...]

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...]

El Rey Del Taco Bistek Tacos Associated with Outbreak

According to news reports and the Cameron County Health Department, a food poisoning outbreak at El Rey del Taco in Brownsville, Texas has been associated with Bistek tacos. Those are tacos made with onions, flank steak, and green chile. At least 33 people were sickened in this outbreak. Public health officials have not named the pathogen responsible for these illnesses, but did says that the illnesses were caused by a "microbial toxins." Bacteria that produce toxins that make people sick within a short amount of time include Clostridium perfringens and Bacillus cereus. Both of these pathogens make toxins when they are in large quantities of food, particularly meat and gravy, that is not properly cooled or not properly reheated. About 30 patients went to Valley Regional … [Read more...]

Essex County NJ Detention Facility Serving Unsafe Food

The Inspector General for the Department of Homeland Security has found that New Jersey's Essex County Correctional Facility has "unsanitary and unsafe conditions." This place holds 800 immigrants. The IG has released a report on conditions at that facility. Inspectors found "foul smelling and unrecognizable" hamburger patties, blood from raw chicken leaking in the refrigerator, and moldy bread set aside to make bread pudding in the kitchen. Lunch meat was "slimy and foul-smelling," and appeared to be spoiled. Detainees said they have been suffering from food poisoning and stomach infections. Those problems can cause food poisoning from Salmonella, E. coli, and Listeria monocytogenes bacteria. Cross-contamination from raw chicken juices onto foods eaten uncooked can cause … [Read more...]

Bacterial Outbreak Associated With Xi’an Noodles in Seattle Sickens Three

Three people are sick after a bacterial toxin is associated with Xi'an Noodles restaurant in Seattle, Washington. None of the patients have been hospitalized. The people ate at that restaurant on December 21, 2018. King County Public Health is investigating this outbreak. The symptoms patients experienced include abdominal cramps and diarrhea. All three patients were from a single meal party. The press release states that symptoms and timing suggest that a bacterial toxin is responsible for the illnesses, such as Clostridium perfringens or Bacillus cereus. The exact food or beverage served at Xi'an Noodles that caused the illness has not yet been identified. Environmental Health investigators were at the restaurant on December 31, 2018. Earlier food safety inspections and the … [Read more...]

Potatoes and Food Poisoning Outbreaks: Botulism and Listeria Monocytogenes

Potatoes aren't often thought of when people think about food poisoning. This root vegetable is, after all, always cooked before it's eaten, which would kill off any pathogenic bacteria. But this vegetable grows in soil and can be contaminated at any point along the supply chain. But there have been some outbreaks linked to potatoes. Clostridium botulinum outbreaks have been linked to baked potatoes that are wrapped in aluminum foil. The spores that produce this deadly toxin are found in the soil, and they can contaminate the spuds. The spores can sometimes survive the baking process. If the potatoes are baked while tightly wrapped in aluminum foil, that creates an anaerobic (oxygen-free) environment. And that creates the perfect conditions for botulism spores to germinate, grow, … [Read more...]

Google FINDER Search May Pinpoint Restaurants Associated with Food Poisoning Outbreaks

Google and Harvard University have developed a new method for identifying restaurants that may be the source of food poisoning outbreaks much more quickly than traditional methods. The method is called FINDER (Foodborne IllNess DEtector in Real time), which uses web search and location data. Most food poisoning outbreaks are linked to restaurants and delis. Traditionally, foodborne illness outbreaks are investigated after people go to the doctor when they are sick. Officials then interview those patients to see if there is a common denominator in what they ate or where they ate before they got sick. Or officials are alerted to a potential outbreak through PulseNet, which is an aggregate of bacterial DNA taken from ill persons and categorized. What is FINDER? FINDER is actually … [Read more...]

Who is at High Risk for Complications From Food Poisoning?

Every week Food Poisoning Bulletin tells you about outbreaks that have sickened, hospitalized, or even killed dozens and hundreds of people. The ironic thing about these outbreaks is that a good number of sick persons never see a doctor. Unless something goes seriously wrong. So who is at higher risk for developing serious complications from food poisoning? Every year, about 1 in 6 Americans, or 48,000,000 people, contract some type of food poisoning infection. More than 120,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 people die. Those who are more likely to get a foodborne illness in the first place are children under the age of 5, adults over the age of 65, anyone who has a chronic illness such as cancer or diabetes, and pregnant women. That's why we stress that it is so important to … [Read more...]

CDC Surveillance Report Reveals Outbreak Numbers, But Not Consequences of Foodborne Illness

The CDC Surveillance Report for Foodborne Disease Outbreaks from 2009 - 2005 was released in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report today. The numbers show that food poisoning outbreaks remain a serious health problem in this country, causing millions of illnesses every year. But what the raw numbers don't reveal is how these largely preventable illnesses wreak havoc on individual lives and families. During the time frame of the report, the CDC's Foodborne Disease Outbreak Surveillance System received reports of 5,760 outbreaks that caused more than 100,000 illnesses, more than 5500 hospitalizations, and 145 deaths. These outbreak illnesses are a small fraction of the actual number of food poisoning cases that occur every year. The government estimates that 48,000,000 … [Read more...]

Multiple Grocery Stores Update Secondary Listeria Monocytogenes Recalls for Produce

The U.S. Food & Drug Administration reports that several grocery stores that issued secondary recalls of produce products last week have either updated or revised their lists of the items subject to recall. These recalls were prompted by the large-scale recall by Salinas, CA-based Mann’s Packing of thousands of pounds of minimally processed vegetables they distributed across the United States and Canada. This original recall was announced after the Canadian Inspection Service revealed it had found a single positive result of Listeria monocytogenes contamination during a random sampling of Mann Packing’s Produce. Listeria is a very serious variety of food poisoning that is particularly dangerous to pregnant women and their unborn children – it can cause miscarriage, stillbirth, or … [Read more...]

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