October 25, 2016

Pritzker Hageman Files Lawsuit in Hopkins MN Legionnaires’ Outbreak

The law firm of Pritzker Hageman has filed a lawsuit on behalf of a client who was sickened in the Legionnaires' Disease outbreak in Hopkins, Minnesota. The lawsuit was filed in Hennepin County District Court on October 13, 2016 (file no. 27-CV-16-15044). The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) identified the source of the pathogenic bacteria on October 12, 2016, as cooling towers at Citrus Systems. Citrus Systems' facility is located at 415 11th Avenue South in Hopkins. Public health officials based their conclusion on the distribution of cases and where they live, work, or were in Hopkins, along with the test results from water samples taken from Citrus Systems' cooling towers. Laboratory tests found the outbreak strain of Legionella bacteria in one of the towers. Cooling towers … [Read more...]

Citrus Systems Products Not Involved with MN Legionnaires Outbreak

The Minnesota State Department of Health is telling the public that food products made and packaged at the Citrus Systems facility in Hopkins are not affected by nor involved in the Legionnaires' Disease outbreak linked to that facility. Consumers have been calling MDH with questions about this outbreak. The Citrus Systems building is a beverage processing and distribution facility. They also develop and formulate products, design labels, and offer shipping. The water system used to make the beverages is completely separate from the system used by the cooling towers. Legionella bacteria do not cause illness through eating food or drinking water or beverages. The infection is also not passed person-to-person. The only way to get Legionnaires' Disease is by inhaling the bacteria in … [Read more...]

MN Identifies Source of Hopkins Legionnaires’ Disease Outbreak

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) announced today that it has identified the likely source of the Legionnaires' Disease outbreak in Hopkins. A set of cooling towers at Citrus Systems, Inc., at 415 11th Avenue South in Hopkins tested positive for the pathogenic bacteria. Test results of water samples taken from Citrus System's cooling towers showed the outbreak strain of bacteria. The bacteria matched the strain of bacteria taken from patients sickened in this outbreak. Other cooling towers in the area were sampled, but none of them had the outbreak strain of Legionella. Twenty-three people have been sickened in this outbreak. Of those patients, 17 were hospitalized. One person died. The last date that an illness was reported was on September 22, 2016, almost three weeks … [Read more...]

Minnesota Legionnaires’ Disease Outbreak Sickens 23

The Minnesota Department of Health says that 23 people who live or work in Hopkins have contracted Legionnaires' Disease. Three more cases were confirmed by MDH between September 28 and September 30, 2016. The most recent illness onset date is September 22. According to that news release, seven cooling towers in that city are being investigated in connection to this outbreak. As of September 29, 2016, all of those cooling towers have been or are being remediated by their owners. Remediation is complex and can consist of heating the water in the building's system to 157°F, draining tanks, cleaning them, chlorination, and frequent re-testing. Interviews with patients or their family members didn't uncover a common exposure, such as visits to a restaurant, store, or specific … [Read more...]

Five Minnesotans Sickened in General Mills Flour E. coli Outbreak

Five people in Minnesota have been sickened in the E. coli O121 and O26 outbreak linked to recalled General Mills flour. The outbreak case count now includes 46 people in 21 states. Thirteen of those ill persons have been hospitalized. One person has developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, and no deaths have been reported. Laboratory, traceback, and epidemiologic evidence indicate that flour produced at the General Mills facility in Kansas City, Missouri is a "likely source" of this outbreak. Two strains of E. coli bacteria have been found in the flour; E. coli O121 and E. coli O26. General Mills has expanded its recall of flour produced at that mill twice to include more production dates. Please look carefully at the list of recalled products to see if you purchased any. If you … [Read more...]

Salmonella Outbreak in MN Associated With Taylor Farms Kale

A Salmonella Enteritidis outbreak associated with Taylor Farms Organic Kale Medley sickened six people in Minnesota, the Minnesota Department of Health told Food Poisoning Bulletin in an email. The illnesses began between April 3 and April 26, 2016. One person was hospitalized as a result of their illness, and all patients are recovering. The product associated with this outbreak, Taylor Farms Organic Kale Medley "power greens" mix, was purchased at Sam's Club locations in Minnesota. The product contains kale, shredded carrots, chard, and spinach. That company pulled the product from store shelves nationwide on May 4, 2016, and directly notified all customers who purchased the product in Minnesota since March 1, 2016. Doug Schultz, of the Minnesota Department of Health, stated in … [Read more...]

Norovirus Outbreak Sickens Carleton College Students

A norovirus outbreak has sickened at least 22 Carleton students, according to the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH). Public health officials think that the students were sickened after they ate at Hogan Brothers' Acoustic Cafe in Northfield, Minnesota. Hogan Brothers' is a popular restaurant in town that serves custom made sandwiches. The restaurant is temporarily closed to clean and investigate what happened. The college has set up a form to report any stomach illness among students and staff. The college itself is reporting that about 20 to 25 students are ill with symptoms of nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. The news release on Carleton's website states that "it is very unlikely the illness is related to food served in any of the Carleton dining facilities." The form is to help … [Read more...]

How Does Salmonella Get on Pistachios?

The current Salmonella outbreak linked to recalled Wonderful pistachios brings up a question: how does Salmonella get on pistachios? Most of us are familiar with problems with Salmonella on poultry and in eggs. But a dry, shelf-stable product such as pistachios doesn't seem to be a candidate for this bacteria. Unfortunately, Salmonella can live for a long time on dry products, according to research published in the Journal of Food Protection in October 2015. Salmonella can survive for at least six months on foods that are very dry, and will not grow, but survive, on foods that are refrigerated or frozen. And, as we have told you before, any product, including produce, which includes nuts, can be contaminated with bacteria. There have been 89 recalls of nut butters and nuts for … [Read more...]

E. coli Sproutbreak in MN and WI: What is It About Sprouts?

An E. coli O157:NM outbreak in Minnesota and Wisconsin had been linked to alfalfa sprouts made by Jack and the Green Sprouts in River Falls, Wisconsin. The outbreak has sickened at least nine people so far. Two of those sickened have been hospitalized. The sprouts have been recalled and hopefully there will be no new illnesses reported. But there will be more recalls and outbreaks involving sprouts in the future, because these products are inherently risky. Just browse through all of the stories of recalls and outbreaks we've written about in the past four years. What is it about sprouts that makes them so prone to contamination? The answer lies in how the seeds are sprouted and how they are grown in the first place. The seeds themselves can be contaminated, from feces from animals, … [Read more...]

Unusual Advice for Those Who Bought Recalled Sprouts Linked to Outbreaks

Every time a food is recalled for possible Listeria monocytogenes contamination, the advice from food safety experts is to clean out the fridge with a mild bleach solution, since that bacteria can grow at refrigerator temperatures. Now, the FDA is recommending that anyone who bought alfalfa sprouts from Sweetwater Farms LLC should do the same. Their advice is to wash the inside walls and shelves of the refrigerator, cutting boards, and countertops, then sanitize them with a solution of one tablespoon of chlorine bleach to one gallon of hot water; and dry with a clean cloth or paper towel that has not been previously used. Of course, cleaning your refrigerator regularly is important for food safety in general, but this advice is unusual with foods that may be contaminated with Salmonella … [Read more...]

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