September 22, 2020

Forty Leafy Greens STEC Outbreaks Occurring During 2009 to 2018

The October 2020 issue of the CDC's Emerging Infectious Diseases has a study about E. coli O157:H7 outbreaks from 2009 to 2018 and found that there were forty leafy greens STEC outbreaks during that time frame. STEC is Shiga toxin-producing E. coli bacteria, most often E. coli O157:H7. Those outbreaks caused 1,212 illnesses, 77 cases of hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), and eight deaths. More of those outbreaks were linked to romaine lettuce than any other type of leafy green. Forty-five percent of those outbreaks occurred in the fall, and 28% occurred in the spring. Leafy greens are the second most common source of foodborne STEC outbreaks, after ground beef. The connection between those two products is that cattle are considered the major reservoir for the pathogen, and STEC … [Read more...]

Will There Be a 2020 E. coli Romaine Lettuce Outbreak?

Food safety experts are holding their collective breath. Now that fall is here, will there be a 2020 E. coli romaine lettuce outbreak? In previous years, by this time there has been at least one serious outbreak linked to leafy greens. Is our luck about to run out? Or have changes made by the California and Arizona Leafy Greens Marketing Agreements and government made a difference? There has been at least one E. coli outbreak in the U.S.  linked to leafy greens every year since 2017; hundreds have been sickened, dozens have been hospitalized, and several people died. One of the issues in these outbreak developments, especially in the past several years, has to do with climate. When there has been an unusually hot and dry summer, farmers in California and Arizona have to use more … [Read more...]

FDA Investigation Into Three Fall 2019 Romaine E. coli O157:H7 Outbreaks

The FDA has released a report detailing their investigation into three fall 2019 romaine E. coli O157:H7 outbreaks that sickened at least 188 people.  That agency worked with the FDA and state officials to investigation how the romaine lettuce was contaminated. The romaine E. coli O157:H7 outbreaks began in September 2019 and were declared over in January 2020. Some clusters within each of these outbreaks were traced to a common grower with multiple ranches and fields in the Salinas, California growing region. That grower was not named. Investigators found one of the outbreak strains of E. coli O157:H7 in a sample taken from public land less than two miles upslope from a produce farm with multiple fields that was identified during traceback investigations. Other Shiga … [Read more...]

Safer Food Choices For People At Risk For Food Poisoning Complications

People who are at risk for serious compilations from food poisoning need to be careful about the food they buy and how it is prepared, as well as staying vigilant about food recalls and food outbreak notices. But there are other ways to protect yourself if you fall into a high risk category for food poisoning. There are safer food choices to make at the grocery store. For instance, at the deli, avoid purchasing cold smoked fish or products that contain cold smoked fish. In addition, do not choose sashimi, sushi, or ceviche, since those products use raw or undercooked fish or shellfish. Instead, choose canned fish or seafood, and seafood that has been cooked to a minimum final internal temperature of 145°F. Do not buy unpasteurized (raw) milk, unpasteurized fruit juices, or raw … [Read more...]

Consumer Reports Finds Listeria in Some Brands of Leafy Greens

Consumer Reports finds Listeria monocytogenes bacteria in both bulk and bagged prewashed lettuce. This disturbing discovery highlights the fact that leafy greens have been the source of many serious multistate food poisoning outbreaks in the last few years. Researchers at the company purchased 284 samples of fresh greens at several grocery store chains, including Hannaford, Whole Foods, and Costco. The samples included lettuce, spinach, and kale. The company found six leafy greens samples that were tainted with Listeria monocytogenes. Two  specific products that tested positive for the pathogen were packaged, prewashed greens made of spinach, and an organic spinach-spring mix. The remaining four products were loose heads or bunches of green kale, green leaf lettuce, spinach, and … [Read more...]

FDA Comments on Deadly E. coli O157:H7 HUS Outbreak Linked to Leafy Greens

The deadly E. coli O157:H7 HUS outbreak that was linked to leafy greens is over, according to the CDC. The FDA has announced information about its investigation into this multistate outbreak. The last person to report an illness to public health officials got sick on December 12, 2017. That indicates that the food that was causing this illness is not longer available in consumers' homes or in the marketplace. Officials think that leafy greens caused this outbreak. That product has a relatively short shelf life. The FDA is still investigating this outbreak, since officials did not determine a specific product, where the product was sold, or who produced the product that caused this outbreak. No common link between patients has been identified, although leafy greens seem to be the … [Read more...]

Deadly E. coli O157:H7 HUS Outbreak Linked to Leafy Greens Over, Says CDC

The deadly E. coli O157:H7 HUS outbreak in many states that is linked to leafy green is over, according to the CDC. In all, 25 people in 15 states were sickened with the outbreak strain of deadly bacteria.   The most recent illness started on December 12, 2017. Illnesses started on dates ranging from November 5, 2017 to December 12, 2017. Nine people were hospitalized, including two who developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a type of kidney failure. One person in California died. This outbreak investigation began in Canada, when people sickened with the same strain of E. coli bacteria were reported in several provinces. In that country, this outbreak was linked to romaine lettuce. The U.S. government failed to identify a specific product linked to this outbreak, but … [Read more...]

CDC Updates Deadly E. coli O157:H7 HUS Outbreak Associated with Leafy Greens; Romaine?

The deadly E. coli O157:H7 HUS outbreak in the United States that is associated with leafy greens and may be linked to romaine lettuce has been updated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC, fifteen states, and the FDA are investigating the outbreak. As of January 10, 2018, 24 people are sick. That's an increase of seven illnesses since the initial report of the outbreak on December 28, 2017. The last reported illness started on December 12, 2017. The case count by state is:  California (4), Connecticut (2), Illinois (1), Indiana (2), Maryland (3), Michigan (1), Nebraska (1), New Hampshire (2), New Jersey (1), New York (1), Ohio (1), Pennsylvania (2), Vermont (1), Virginia (1), and Washington (1). Illnesses began on dates ranging from November 15, 2017 to … [Read more...]

Listeria Monocytogenes Can Hide Inside Lettuce Leaves

A new research study from Purdue University that was published in the Journal of Food Protection has found that Listeria monocytogenes bacteria can hide inside the leaves of romaine lettuce. That suggests that traditional post-harvest sanitation practices "may not be sufficient to kill the potentially lethal pathogen." The Listeria monocytogenes outbreak linked to recalled Dole salads last year was the sixth largest multistate food poisoning outbreak of 2016. That was the first Listeria outbreak linked to leafy greens, although that type of produce is  the most common culprit in food poisoning outbreak according to a National Institutes of Health study. Other Listeria monocytogenes food poisoning outbreaks have been linked to celery, cantaloupe, raw sprouts, and apples. In that … [Read more...]

Damaged Salad Leaves Massively Stimulate Salmonella Growth

A study published this month in Applied and Environmental Microbiology, conducted at the University of Leicester, shows that juices from damaged salad leaves "massively" stimulate Salmonella growth. In fact, that lab study shows that those juices increase Salmonella growth 2,400 fold over a control group. The leached juices also increased the bacteria's ability to form a strong, wash-resistant attachment to salad leaves and they enhance the pathogen's virulence, increasing its ability to cause illness. This is all bad news for bagged salad lovers. Between 2000 and 2007 in the United States, there were 38 Salmonella outbreaks associated with leafy greens that sickened 1,409 people. Leafy greens and Salmonella as a produce-pathogen pair is the second most common risk for outbreaks. … [Read more...]

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