July 12, 2024

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...]

White House Threatens Veto of House Agriculture Appropriations Bill

In a Statement of Administration Policy issued June 25, 2013, the White House stated it strongly opposes House passage of H.R. 2410, making appropriations for Agriculture, Rural Development, FDA, and Related Agencies programs for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2014. The Statement reads "it imposes harmful cuts in rural economic development, renewable energy development, nutrition programs, food safety, agricultural research, and international food aid. If the President were presented with H.R. 2410, his senior advisors would recommend that he veto the bill." The deadline for action on this issue passed more than two months ago. Congress has still not appointed conferees and agreed on a budget resolution. The White House said they are "deeply concerned that the WIC funding level … [Read more...]

Children in Poverty Face Greater Food Safety Risks

A new report by the Consumer Federation of America finds that children from low-income families are at greater risk for foodborne illness and unintentional product injuries than children from higher-income families. The report, titled Child Poverty, Unintentional Injuries and Foodborne Illness: Are Low Income Children at Greater Risk? concluded that researchers must collect better data on the relationship of family income to foodborne illness incidence. More than 2/5 of the 73 million children in America are from low-income families. The report was based on data collected through FoodNet, the CDC's national foodborne illness surveillance system. According to that data, children under the age of 15 account for half of all foodborne illnesses in this country. Children under the age of 5 … [Read more...]

Most Consumers Don’t Wash Their Hands Correctly

A study published in the Journal of Environmental Health found that only 5% of consumers wash their hands correctly. Scientists trained 12 college students in the field of data collection. They then observed 3,749 people washing their hands in public toilets. The observers found that 15% of the men and 7% of women didn't wash their hands at all. Only 50% of men and 78% of women used soap. People were less likely to wash their hands if the sink looked dirty, and more likely if a sign telling people that hand washing is a good idea was hanging above the sink. And for some reason, more people wash their hands during the day than at night. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that hand washing is crucial to avoid spreading foodborne illness and other infections. If … [Read more...]

CSPI Releases List of Risky Meat

The Center for Science in the Public Interest has released a list of meat and poultry products that have the greatest risk of causing foodborne illness outbreaks. They studied 12 years of outbreaks from meat and poultry that occurred in the U.S. from 1998 to 2010. Only illnesses linked to outbreaks that were definitively attributed to meat or poultry product were used in the analysis. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) state that 48 million Americans contract some sort of foodborne illness every year, but most are not known because they are either "sporadic", not linked to an outbreak, or are not diagnosed or reported to public health officials. The vast majority of foodborne illnesses don't require medical attention. And of the illnesses that do require medical … [Read more...]

Snapshot of Foodborne Illness Trends in US

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released a snapshot of the report card for food safety issued by FoodNet. This data helps public health officials know how much progress (or lack of progress) has been made in reaching goals for reducing foodborne illness. Those goals, enumerated at HealthyPeople.gov, state that the objectives are to reduce infections caused by bacteria and viruses transmitted through food. More specifically, the government is working toward reductions in infections due to STEC bacteria, Listeria, and Salmonella in beef, dairy, fruit, nuts, leafy vegetables, and poultry. They also want to prevent an increase in the proportion of Salmonella and Campylobacter isolates that are resistant to antimicrobial drugs. Finally, increasing the proportion … [Read more...]

Study Examines Treatments for Microbial Contamination in Sprouts

A study published int he April issue of the Journal of Food Science looked at seed disinfection treatments of sprouts. In the last few years, there have been several major foodborne illness outbreaks linked to raw sprouts, including an E. coli outbreak linked to clover sprouts served at Jimmy John's restaurants that sickened 29 people in 11 states. And there were seven recalls of sprouts for pathogenic bacterial contamination. Sprouts are problematic for several reasons. First, the bacteria can be encapsulated inside the seed, making it impervious to physical disinfection such as the application of calcium hypochlorite. And the seeds are sprouted in warm, moist conditions, which are ideal for bacterial growth. The FDA released guidelines in 1999 designed to limit this problem, … [Read more...]

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