December 3, 2022

History of Fast Food E. coli Outbreaks is Long and Complicated

There is a mystery E. coli outbreak that has sickened dozens of people in Michigan and Ohio. After days of counties reporting the illnesses, the CDC got involved in the investigation yesterday. At least 29 people in those states are sick, and nine patients have been hospitalized. What could be causing this outbreak? We started thinking about the history of fast food E. coli outbreaks over the years. Unfortunately, outbreaks and fast food restaurants are a fairly common combination. There have been many Salmonella, E. coli, and cyclospora outbreaks associated with those restaurants. The main fast food restaurant chains in this country include Wendy's, McDonald's, Jimmy John's, Jack in the Box, Burger King, and Hardees, among others. These are the E. coli outbreaks linked to fast food … [Read more...]

What Foods Are Commonly Associated with Listeria Outbreaks?

Given the two mystery Listeria monocytogenes outbreaks the government is currently investigating, it is a good idea to know what foods are commonly associated with Listeria monocytogenes outbreaks? This deadly infection has severe consequences; many people who contract it require hospitalization. If you are at higher risk for complications from this infection, you should think about avoiding these foods. Those who are at higher risk include the elderly, the very young, anyone with a chronic illness such as diabetes, anyone with a compromised immune system, and pregnant women. Most people who are sickened with this infection are older, have a chronic illness, or are pregnant; 90% of patients fall into those categories. Others who contract this infection rarely become seriously … [Read more...]

FDA Issues Final Guidance For Seeds Used For Sprouting

The FDA is issuing final guidance for seeds used for sprouting. The guidance outlines FDA's concerns over food poisoning outbreaks associated with th consumption of raw and lightly cooked sprouts. The guidance gives firms recommended steps to prevent adulteration throughout the production chain. Between 1996 and 2020, the were 52 reported foodborne illness outbreaks associated with contaminated sprouts. As a result, at least 2700 Americans were sickened. Contamination can occur at any point in the supply chain, but the seeds themselves are the most likely source of contamination in many of these outbreaks. In 2019 and 2020, an E. coli O103 outbreak linked to raw sprouts at Jimmy John's restaurants sickened at least 22 people in Iowa. Another Jimmy Jon's outbreak, this time caused … [Read more...]

Which Foods May Be Contaminated With Listeria Monocytogenes Bacteria?

Which foods may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes bacteria? Outbreaks of listeriosis, the illness caused by this pathogen, that have been linked to these kinds of foods go back to 1985. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have put together a list of foods that people in high risk groups should avoid. While any food can be contaminated with this pathogen, the foods that are most likely to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes include deli meats, hot dogs, dairy products such as soft cheese, raw milk, and ice cream, and produce such as celery, sprouts, and cantaloupe. People who are at high risk for serious complications from a Listeria monocytogenes food poisoning infection should think about avoiding these foods unless they are cooked to 165°F. Those at … [Read more...]

What You Need to Know About Raw Sprouts and Food Poisoning

Raw sprouts have been considered a health food for decades. They are crunchy and delicious and full of nutrients. The sprouting process increases the availability of protein, folate, magnesium, phosphorus, manganese and vitamins C and K than unsprouted seeds. Unfortunately, the sprouting process also links raw sprouts and food poisoning. There have been many Salmonella and E. coli outbreaks linked to raw sprouts in the past few years. These outbreaks have been so numerous that a term was coined about them: sproutbreaks. The problem is that the seeds are inherently risky. The bacteria can be encapsulated in the seed itself, so cleaning the seeds before sprouting is completely ineffective. Then, when the seeds are sprouted in warm, moist conditions, those bacteria can grow and … [Read more...]

FDA Updates E. coli O103 Clover Sprouts Outbreak With New Product Info

The FDA updated its investigation into the E. coli O103 clover sprouts outbreak that has sickened at least 14 people in five states. Yesterday, Chicago Indoor Garden recalled its products made with clover sprouts, since the FDA found the outbreak strain of E. coli O103 in a sample of the raw sprouts. The original outbreak notice linked this outbreak to clover sprouts served on Jimmy John's sandwiches, but there is no longer any mention of that restaurant in the outbreak notice. These illnesses are new and are not linked to the E. coli O103 outbreak in Iowa that the FDA referenced in warning letters that were sent to both Jimmy John's and another sprouts growing company in late February 2020. Jimmy John's is not mentioned anymore, either in the March 13, 2020 outbreak update or … [Read more...]

FDA Issues New Guidance to Improve Safety of Sprouts

The FDA has issued new draft guidance to help improve the safety of seeds for sprouting. Will it make a difference? In the past 22 years, there have been 50 outbreaks of foodborne illness associated with contaminated raw sprouts. These outbreaks have caused 2,600 cases of food poisoning. In 2018, there were two sproutbreaks which together sickened about 100 people. Last year, ten people were sickened with Salmonella Montevideo infections after eating raw sprouts in Jimmy John's sandwiches. Studies show that contaminated seed is the likely source of most of these outbreaks. It doesn't help that the conditions under which the seeds are sprouted, warm and moist, are perfect for pathogen growth. FDA Deputy Commissioner for Food Policy and Response Frank Yiannas said, "The FDA is … [Read more...]

Revisiting Raw Sprouts: Why Are They Such a Health Risk?

The current Salmonella Montevideo outbreak at Jimmy John's restaurants seems to be pinpointed on raw sprouts served on that chain's sandwiches. Unfortunately, most people do not think of produce as being a risk for food poisoning. But that class of foods is most often associated with foodborne illness outbreaks. There have been many outbreaks in the past few years linked to fresh produce, including leafy greens, apples, raspberries, snow peas, cilantro, and yes, sprouts. In fact, sprouts are almost in a category by themselves. The way this food is produced is part of the problem. To make sprouts, seeds are placed in a warm and moist environment, which happens to be the ideal medium for bacterial growth. Since 1998, fresh or lightly cooked sprouts have been linked to 49 food … [Read more...]

FDA Weighs In On Multistate Salmonella Outbreak Linked to Jimmy John’s Raw Clover Sprouts

The FDA is weighing in on the multistate Salmonella Montevideo outbreak linked to raw clover sprouts sold at Jimmy John's restaurants in Illinois and Wisconsin. The FDA is advising consumers not to eat sprouts at those restaurants in that state because they may be contaminated with the pathogenic bacteria. We now know that the product being focused on is clover sprouts. Jimmy John's did announce on January 19, 2018, that all of its retail locations temporarily stopped serving sprouts. Epidemiologic evidence indicates that the sprouts served at Jimmy John's restaurants are the likely source of the outbreak. The most recent illness began on January 3, 2018. The FDA is working with partners in Illinois and Wisconsin, and the CDC, to conduct traceback on the clover sprouts. They want … [Read more...]

Five Sickened in Wisconsin in Jimmy John’s Salmonella Sprouts Outbreak

Five people are sick in Wisconsin in the multistate Salmonella Montevideo outbreak that happened after consumers ate sprouts at Jimmy John's restaurants in that state and Illinois. Two people are sick in Illinois, and one person is sick in Minnesota. The Wisconsin Department of Health Services is working with the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, health departments, and the CDC to investigate this outbreak. All five patients are sick with the outbreak strain of Salmonella. And all of those patients said they ate sprouts at a Jimmy John's restaurant in the state in mid-to-late December, 2017. People who have been sickened by the same bacteria strain said they ate sprouts at Jimmy John's locations in their state. Officials are trying to identify … [Read more...]

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