September 21, 2019

It’s State Fair Time! Watch Out for E. Coli …

It's state fair time! State fairs around the country are in full swing. Some have ended, and some have yet to begin. These gatherings are celebrations of the harvest and of the hard work of farmers. But in the past, these fairs and other late summer and early fall gatherings have been the source of dangerous E. coli outbreaks. This year, an E. coli O157 outbreak at the Minnesota State Fair has sickened 11 people, hospitalizing six. One person has developed HUS. Most of the patients visited the Miracle of Birth exhibit, and had contact with ruminant animals. Earlier this year, a deadly E. coli outbreak at the San Diego County Fair sickened 10 people. Three people were hospitalized and one 2-year-old died. In 2014, an E. coli O157:H7 outbreak linked to the traveling Zerebko Zoo … [Read more...]

MN State Fair E. coli Outbreak: Are These Outbreaks Common?

With the announcement yesterday of the MN State Fair E. coli outbreak that has sickened 11 people and hospitalized six, we were wondering how many other state and county fairs have had these serious outbreaks. Are these E. coli. outbreaks common at local, county, and state fairs? Unfortunately, the answer is yes. There have been quite a few E. coli outbreaks at state and county fairs over the years, and some have been deadly. These are the state and county fair outbreaks that have occurred since 2012: In 2012, a huge E. coli outbreak linked to the Cleveland County Fair in North Carolina sickened 106 people, including 65 children. Thirteen people were hospitalized in that outbreak, and one child died. Fair organizers banned petting zoos at the event after this outbreak. In … [Read more...]

Minnesota State Fair E. coli O157 Outbreak Sickens 11; 1 With HUS

An E. coli O157 outbreak associated with the Minnesota State Fair has sickened 11 people, according to the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH). This Minnesota State Fair E. coli outbreak was announced today. Evidence suggests that contact with livestock is a "key factor" in this outbreak. Patients interviewed by public health officials say that they visited the fair between August 25, 2019 and September 2, 2019. Illness onset dates range from August 29, 2019 to September 6, 2019. Whole genome sequencing indicates that the E. coli O157 strains are closely related. Six people were hospitalized; one remains in the hospital. One person has developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a type of kidney failure that is potentially fatal. Cases range in age from 2 to 43 years. HUS is most … [Read more...]

It’s State and County Fairs Time; Stay Safe at Animal Exhibits

As summer winds down and fall approaches, state and county fairs are underway. The CDC is warning parents and caregivers about ways to protect yourself and your children against E. coli and other illnesses that have been linked to those events. Animals exhibits and petting zoos at county and state fairs have been the source of E. coli outbreaks in the past few years. From 2010 to 2015, about 100 outbreaks of illness were linked to animals in public settings. These outbreaks have been caused by E. coli O157:H7, Cryptosporidium, and Salmonella bacteria. Last year, eight people were sickened with E. coli infections after visiting the Mesa County Fair in Colorado Junction, Colorado. An E. coli outbreak in Minnesota in 2014 was linked to Zerebko Zoo Tran, a traveling petting zoo. At … [Read more...]

Sixty-One Vendors at the New York State Fair Cited for Critical Violations

Sixty-one vendors at the New York State Fair were cited for serious violations, according to Syracuse.com. The violations were for problems and issues that can cause foodborne illness. That paper submitted a request for the violations at the New York State Fair with a Freedom of Information Act request. Two complaints of ill persons were investigated at the fair last year, but were "unsubstantiated," according to the report. The 100 violations were rated as "critical." These types of violations involve cooking, storage temperatures, the condition of food, or the source of the food. They may also be linked to water and sewage, presence of pests, use of toxic materials, and the sanitary practices of food workers. Officials also found 371 non-critical violations at the New York … [Read more...]

E. coli and Cryptosporidium Cases Rise in Michigan

Cases of E. coli and Cryptosporidium increased this summer in two counties in Michigan, according to the Health Department. Jennifer Morse, medical director of three regional health departments in that state said in a statement, "These increases are concerning because the resulting illness can be life-threatening. With the investigations that have been completed thus far, the major source seems to be coming from farm animals." These illnesses occurred in Mecosta and Newaygo counties in Michigan. This is important information, since we are approaching the time when many farms open their gates to tourism. Apple picking season is here. Deadly food poisoning outbreaks linked to farms have increased in the past few years. In fact, in 2013, an E. coli O157:H7 outbreak at Dehn's Pumpkins in … [Read more...]

GoIng to the Fair? Protect Your Family From E. coli

The E. coli outbreak in Washington County, Oregon that may be related to livestock at the Washington County fair is a reminder to all that attending county and state fairs can be dangerous. Officials are investigating "several" illnesses that occurred after those sickened attended the fair. In the past few years, there have been E. coli outbreaks linked to livestock exhibits and petting zoos at fairs. And now that we are getting into autumn, the big state fairs are set to begin.   Livestock exhibits and areas where ruminant animals are gathered are the hot spots for these outbreaks. Cows, goats, sheep, deer, and elk are ruminant animals; they can carry E. coli bacteria in their intestines. The bacteria comes out in their poop, which can get everywhere, including on the … [Read more...]

CDC Food Safety Tips at Fairs and Festivals

Foodborne illness increases during summer months and outbreaks are often linked to fairs and festivals. To help everyone safely enjoy their time at the fair, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has compiled some food safety tips. One of the biggest things to keep in mind, according to the agency, is that food safety issues are the same no matter where food is being prepared and served. People preparing food prepared outdoors, or in a truck need to use the same safety controls they would in a kitchen- such as storing food at the proper temperatures, avoiding cross-contamination, monitoring temperatures and keeping, hands, utensils and work surfaces clean. Before buying food from a festival vendor, the CDC advises, ask yourself the following questions:  Does the … [Read more...]

Neews on a Stick, Special State Fair Edition of Gross Food Stories

It's a special state fair edition of The Neews, our monthly feature of food stories that put the eew in news. This month, we're ditching our standard fare of gross food stories for fair fare and a good cause. Mandy Colten of St. Paul, Minnesota pledged to eat everything served on a stick at the Minnesota State Fair to raise money for Make a Wish. She has a blog with photos of the foods she's tried and a Twitter account for her State Fair Food Challenge. The rules of the challenge were: the food must be on a stick and eaten in its entirety at the fair. There are over a 100 foods served on a stick at the 12-day festival which ends Labor Day. Colton started off with 15 or 16 items each day and tapered off to 10 or 12. She finished just minutes ago with a big corndog and a victory … [Read more...]

Three Food Vendors Closed at Western Montana Fair

Three food vendors were shut down by health inspectors after officials discovered that "hundreds of pounds of food" had not been properly refrigerated for several days. Bacteria grow readily in certain foods at temperatures between 40 and 140°F; in fact, if the food is warm enough, bacterial counts can double every 20 minutes. More violations included improper storage of food, unsanitized dishes, a clogged sink, water supply violations, and employees not washing their hands. Three people did get sick after eating food served by those vendors, and some of it was served before they were shut down. But there are no confirmed cases of food poisoning definitely linked to the fair. The Missoula City-County Health Department reported these closures August 8, 2014 on their Facebook page. The … [Read more...]

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