July 15, 2019

Caramel Apple Listeria Deaths a Focus of Apple Associations

The California Apple Commission is working with other apple producing states and the U.S. Apple Association regarding the outbreak of listeriosis that state and federal health authorities have associated with commercially produced, pre-packaged caramel apples. In a December 23 newsletter piece about the deadly caramel apple outbreak, the state-authorized commission recapped some details of the investigation, quoting a CDC document that said  “at this time, no illnesses related to this outbreak have been linked to apples that are not caramel-coated and not prepackaged or to caramel candy.” As the newsletter stated, the investigation is still working to determine specific brands or types of commercially produced, prepackaged caramel apples that may be linked to the illnesses. So far, … [Read more...]

Minnesota E. coli Lawyer Lauds State Health Department

Minnesota’s food poisoning investigators had a busy year with outbreaks in 2014, successfully tracing the cause of three separate clusters of E. coli hospitalizations and two waves of Salmonella infections. The efforts undoubtedly protected more people from contracting pathogen-related illnesses and gave victims of the solved outbreaks a chance to hold the purveyors accountable. A review by Food Poisoning Bulletin shows that four of the outbreaks had implications beyond the state’s borders, including findings of E. coli O157:H7 in celery that came from the Salinas Valley; E. coli O111 in cabbage purchased by units of a national restaurant chain  and Salmonella Enteritidis in a frozen chicken breast product mass-produced in Illinois for the American retail market. “The Minnesota … [Read more...]

Cost of US Foodborne Illnesses: $15 Billion Per Year

The Economic Research Service of the USDA has collected cost estimates of foodborne illness for the major pathogens that strike people in the U.S. That cost is estimated to be $15,600,000,000.00 every year, in medical care, lost wages and productivity, and premature deaths. That's billion with a "b". The research looked at 15 pathogens that account for more than 95% of illnesses and deaths in this country. The estimates build on Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates of disease rates, medical and epidemiological literature, and peer-reviewed synthesis of data on medical costs. According to the data, Salmonella infections cost our economy the most money. Yearly cases of salmonellosis cost $3,666,600,031.00, sickening more than a million people and hospitalizing almost … [Read more...]

Wisconsin School Cancels More Football due to Campylobacter

The Durand School District is continuing to reschedule various student activities as the western Wisconsin community grapples with a sweeping outbreak of Campylobacter food poisoning. According to the official school calendar, Monday's C-squad and junior varsity Panther football games against Amery have been canceled. Meanwhile, school volleyball matches canceled last week have been rescheduled for Thursday. The moves were made as the Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene continues to offer testing for any ill students and staff. The most recent school district announcement notes that the source of the outbreak is still actively under investigation by the Pepin County Health Department and the Wisconsin Department of Health Services. "To date, Campylobacter has been detected in multiple … [Read more...]

TATFAR Study on Antimicrobial Resistance Frightening

Foodborne illness resulting from organisms that are resistant to antibiotics is an emerging problem and a facet of a much greater challenge that threatens the health and safety of entire populations. As a result of the threat from Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR), the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the European Commission formed the Transatlantic Taskforce on Antimicrobial Resistance (TATFAR) and recently issued a report outlining the problems posed by AMR and the goals of the Taskforce intended to address them. Antimicrobial agents, including even the newest and most powerful drugs will, over time, be rendered ineffective, according to the report, “by the remarkable ability of bacteria to become resistant through mutation or acquisition of resistance genes from … [Read more...]

Two USDA Agencies Collaborate on Outbreak Cause Assessment

Two US. Department of Agriculture agencies are going to collaborate on an effort to assess the root cause in foodborne illness outbreaks in the U.S. Every year in this country, 48,000,000 people are sickened with a foodborne illness, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die. The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) and the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that details the responsibilities and roles of each agency. The assessments include observational study design, questionnaire development, collection of data and samples, and statistical analysis and reporting. Those facets are all included in the investigation of a foodborne illness outbreak. The assessment team will also provide "frequent, descriptive updates" … [Read more...]

Possible Foodborne Illness Outbreak at Minnesota Lion’s Club

The Minnesota Department of Health is investigating a possible foodborne illness outbreak at a Nisswa Lion's Club meeting held at the Nisswa Community Center on March 24, 2014. The investigation is ongoing and not much information is available, according to the Brainerd Dispatch. The meal was catered by Red, White and Blue Catering of Nisswa. About 35 people ate the buffet meal, and some reported vomiting and/or diarrhea after the event. The DOH does not have a complete list of food items served at the event. Investigations can take a few weeks. Investigators must interview those sickened, take environmental samples, collect food samples, if any, test food for possible bacteria or viruses, and look at samples from patients to determine the outbreak cause. If they do find a common … [Read more...]

Suspect Food Poisoning? State Contact List is a Good Place to Start

If you or someone you know has been exhibiting the symptoms of food poisoning, you (or your doctor) should contact your state or city health department. FoodSafety.gov has a map with links to all of the state, commonwealth, and territory health departments to get you started. When two or more people have the same illness from the same contamianted food or drink, the illnesses are officially classified as an outbreak. Since most cases of foodborne illness are not reported, it's crucial that if you did get sick from food served at a restaurant or event, you tell public health officials about it. For instance, Salmonella outbreaks are usually underreported by a factor of 30. If an official Salmonella outbreak case count stands at 100, there are likely 3,000 people who are actually sick in … [Read more...]

New Twitter App Tracks Foodborne Illness Outbreaks in Chicago

We've told you before about apps that can help keep you safe from food poisoning, and how Twitter may be playing a role in foodborne illess outbreak investigations. Now a company in Chicago has created a new Twitter app called Foodborne Chicago. The project is part of the Smart Chicago Collaborative, an organization "devoted to improving lives in Chicago through technology." The app asks people who think they contracted food poisoning at a restaurant to fill out a form, which is sent to the Chicago Department of Public Health. The app also uses computer codes to search Twitter for anything relating to food poisoning in the Chicago area. People review the tweets and reply back to people who posted about them, asking them to fill out the web form. The form asks which restaurant the person … [Read more...]

CDC Releases Surveillance for Foodborne Disease Outbreaks

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released its Surveillance for Foodborne Disease Outbreaks in the United States from 1998 to 2008. This data describes the number of illnesses, hospitalizations, and deaths from contaminated food and water. During that time frame, there were 13,405 foodborne disease outbreaks, which resulted in 273,120 cases of illness, 9,109 hospitalizations and 200 deaths. Note that these numbers are much smaller than the 48 million illnesses estimated every year; that's because most foodborne illnesses are not reported to public health officials. Of those outbreaks, 7,724 had a known contaminated food or ingredient. The commodity most implicated were poultry, fish, and beef. The pathogen-food combinations most responsible for outbreaks were … [Read more...]

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