January 17, 2018

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...]

CDC: Dole was First Listeria Outbreak Linked to Leafy Greens

The Dole Listeria outbreak evaded initial detection because leafy greens had never before been linked to a Listeria outbreak and were not included on food history questionnaires used in interviews of the first case patients, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Information (CDC). The deadly outbreak, linked to bagged salads produced at Dole’s plant in Springfield, Ohio and sold under a variety of brand names ended in April after sickening 33 people in the U.S. and Canada.   In the U.S., 19 people were sickened and one of them died, according to the CDC. In Canada, 14 people were sickened and three of them died, although health officials in Canada have not been determined if Listeria was the cause of those deaths. All case patients in both countries … [Read more...]

E. coli O157:H7 on Leafy Greens? It’s the Cows

Most people are surprised when a food poisoning outbreak is linked to leafy greens. Fresh vegetables are not the foods we think of in relation to foodborne illness. But the fact remains that leafy greens are the most common vector for delivering pathogenic bacteria to humans. Bacteria get onto leafy greens and other produce in several ways. They can be contaminated in the field by feces from birds and other animals. They can be contaminated in the field by poor worker hygiene. They can be contaminated in transport in dirty containers and trucks. They can be contaminated during processing if a facility doesn't keep animals out, or if workers are sick. But there is one means of contamination that may be most troublesome: location of a farm field next to a cattle feedlot, as a study … [Read more...]

E. coli Outbreak in Canada Associated with Leafy Greens

The Public Health Agency of Canada has announced an outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 associated with leafy greens has been taking place in the country. Illness onset dates ranged from March 13 to March 31, 2015. The investigation concluded on May 12, 2015. The outbreak is now considered over. A specific source of the pathogenic bacteria could not be confirmed, but leafy greens are possible. There were a total of 13 cases with a matching genetic fingerprint. The case count by province is: Alberta (10), Saskatchewan (1), Ontario (1), and Newfoundland and Labrador (1). And the report ends with advice about safe food handling. All raw fruits and vegetables should be washed under running water before you eat them or cut them. Raw fruits and vegetables can be contaminated with E. coli in the … [Read more...]

Salmonella Sticks Better to Older Lettuce Leaves

A new study has found that older leaves of lettuce support higher levels of Salmonella bacteria. The study, published in FEMS Microbiology Letters (ahead of print) in Oxford Journals, reinforces the concept of purchasing bagged lettuce that is as far away from the expiration date as possible. Salmonella binds to leaves of salad crops and survives for "commercially relevant periods" according to the study. Scientists found that attachment levels were higher on older leaves than on younger ones. The differences were associated with leaf vein and stomatal densities, leaf surface hydrophobicity, and leaf surface soluble protein concentrations. Foodborne illnesses from leafy greens are on the rise in this country. During the time period 1996 to 2005, leafy green consumption increased 9%, … [Read more...]

Leafy Greens No Stranger to E. coli Bacteria

The current outbreak of E. coli in Canada that may be linked to leafy greens is nothing new. According to a University of Georgia research project, E. coli bacteria in leafy greens ranked as the first of the 53 pathogen-product commodity pairs in outbreaks from 2000 to 2007. There were 28 E. coli outbreaks linked to cabbage, lettuce, spinach, sprouts, and leafy green salads during that time frame. The FDA issued the revised Product Safety Rule in September 2014. The rules cover testing of water used in surface irrigation, the amount of time between field application of manure and crop planting, and has redefined labels on "farms" and "mixed use facilities" that streamline inspections during the harvest, storage, and packing steps. A 2013 CDC study found that leafy greens are a … [Read more...]

E. coli Outbreak in Canada: Leafy Greens a Possibility

An E. coli outbreak in Canada has sickened at least 12 people. According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, a specific product hasn't been identified as the case of the illnesses, but leafy greens are considered a strong possibility. Those sickened live in: Alberta (9), Saskatchewan (1), Ontario (1), and Newfoundland and Labrador (1). The illness onset dates range from March 13 to March 31, 2015. All of those people are sick with E. coli that have a matching genetic fingerprint. Leafy greens are a possibility and may include kale, spinach, arugula, or chard. Public health officials in Canada are investigating this outbreak and will announce a source when it has been identified. Whenever there is an outbreak in Canada or the United States, there are sometimes cases in the other … [Read more...]

Research at Texas A&M Studies E. coli on Leafy Vegetables

Research at Texas A&M is looking at E. coli contamination on leafy vegetables.  The research looks at how the likelihood that a crop will be contaminated by E. coli before harvest is strongly influenced by both farm management and environmental factors. The study is published in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology. Contaminated produce is the most common source of food poisoning in this country. Between 1998 and 2008, of the 68,000 food poisoning illnesses that were assigned to one of the 17 food commodities, 13% were associated with leafy greens. And the number of illnesses caused by leafy greens is increasing, from 6% in 1999 to 11 percent in 2008. The study, led by Dr. Renata Ivanek,  cross-referenced environmental data with information from farms in several … [Read more...]

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