October 6, 2022

Eating Plant Based Meat? You Must Still Cook it Thoroughly

Are you eating plant based meat? The USDA says that you must still cook all of these products thoroughly to 160°F, since any food can be contaminated with dangerous pathogens. In fact, food poisoning outbreaks linked to plants and plant products is quite common. To show that many outbreaks are not necessarily linked to meat or poultry, just this year, there has been a Salmonella outbreak linked to shelled peas in Wisconsin, a Salmonella Senftenberg outbreak linked to Jif peanut butter, a deadly Listeria monocytogenes outbreak linked to Big Olaf Creamery ice cream, a hepatitis A outbreak linked to organic strawberries, and a deadly Listeria monocytogenes outbreak linked to Dole salads. The market for plant based meats, especially replacements for burgers, is growing for several … [Read more...]

Consumer Reports Finds Salmonella and E. coli in Ground Meats

Is ground meat safe to eat? With all of the recalls and outbreaks linked to those products, many consumers are asking that question. Consumer Reports conducted a study and found that, in many cases, those products are contaminated with dangerous pathogens including Salmonella and E. coli. The numbers are alarming. Almost a third of the ground chicken packages they tested were contaminated with Salmonella bacteria. And every single strain was resistant to at least one antibiotic, adding to the fear of the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Consumer Reports also found a strain of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli in a sample of ground beef that was so dangerous they alerted the Department of Agriculture, triggering a recall of more than 28,000 pounds of ground beef. Ground … [Read more...]

New Salmonella Muenchen Beef Outbreak on USDA Investigation Table

A new Salmonella Muenchen beef outbreak has been posted on the USDA Outbreak Investigation Table, with no more information provided. This table provides even less information than the FDA CORE Outbreak Table, which at least tells us the number of people sick, and whether traceback or other work has started. So we do not know how many people are sick, what states they live in, whether traceback has begun, if any onsite inspections have started, and if any food has been collected and tested for pathogens. All of those things must start before an outbreak can be officially announced. There is only one other active outbreak on that table, an E. coli O157:H7 outbreak that may also be linked to beef. No more information has been provided about that outbreak either. So far this year, … [Read more...]

Wash Your Hands and Use a Food Thermometer This Summer

The USDA is reminding consumers to wash hands and use a food thermometer this summer to avoid foodborne illness. These rules apply even when you are camping, grilling outdoors, or having a picnic. The USDA has observed, in their test kitchens, that consumers are skipping basic food safety practices, which increases the risk of suffering food poisoning. USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety Sandra Eskin said in a statement, "Our research shows that participants were not adequately washing their hands or using a food thermometer. Summer is a time to relax and enjoy delicious meals with friends and family but foodborne pathogens never rest. Following safe food handling practices during this and all other seasons can reduce the risk of you and your loved ones getting sick." A … [Read more...]

USDA Adds Possible Beef E. coli O157:H7 Outbreak to Table

The USDA adds a possible beef E. coli O157:H7 outbreak to its Outbreak Investigation Table. The Salmonella outbreak linked to chicken is still on the table. No more information is available about either of these outbreaks. The last outbreak of USDA-regulated foods that was identified and solved was the 2021 Salmonella Hadar outbreak linked to ground turkey that sickened at least 33 people in 14 states and hospitalized four. This outbreak is most likely not linked to ground beef, since the USDA stipulates whether or not the product is ground in its table. Outbreaks associated with whole cuts are not common. The last outbreak linked to whole beef cuts was in 2009, when 21 people in 16 states were sickened with E. coli O157:H7 infections. Beef products from National Steak and … [Read more...]

USDA Offers Tips to Keep Infants Safe While Formula Shortages Exist

The USDA offers tips to keep infants safe while powdered infant formula shortages are ongoing. The shortage is caused by pandemic supply chain issues and the closure of Abbott Nutrition's Sturgis, Michigan plant for environmental Cronobacter contamination. The contamination was discovered during an FDA inspection after reports of infant illnesses. Many parents depend on formula in the first year of a baby's life. Some mothers cannot breastfeed, and some infants require supplemental nutrition or specialty formulas because of medical issues. To keep infants safe, the USDA says parents should not make homemade infant formula. There are serious safety and health concerns related to homemade formula because they can be deficient in nutrients that babies need for health and growth. … [Read more...]

USDA Addresses Powdered Infant Formula Shortage

The USDA has announced that it is addressing the powdered infant formula shortage and is asking states to take advantage of flexibility in the WIC (Women Infants and Children) program. The shortage was caused by pandemic-related supply chain issues and by the closure of Abbott Nutrition's Sturgis, Michigan plant, where Cronobacter was found in environmental samples after complains of infant illnesses. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a statement, "We’re acutely aware that the ongoing recall has left many parents and caregivers concerned about access to formula and how they will feed their babies. Our team is committed to the health and safety of all Americans and is calling on states to act immediately to offer maximum flexibility, information, and support to WIC … [Read more...]

USDA Investigates Possible Chicken Salmonella Enteritidis Outbreak

The USDA is investigating a possible chicken Salmonella Enteritidis outbreak, according to their outbreak investigations response table. This is the first outbreak of a USDA-regulated food for 2022. The table did not give us any more information. We do not know if chicken is the definitive source or what type of chicken it may be, nor do we know how many people may have been sickened. If it is an outbreak, we do not know illness onset dates, where those sickened live, and if anyone has been hospitalized. As far as we know, no recall has been issued. Poultry and Salmonella have caused many outbreaks over the years. It's worth mentioning that Salmonella outbreaks are notoriously underreported. Epidemiologists use a multiplier of 30 to estimate how many people are actually sickened … [Read more...]

Fall Harvested Romaine More Likely to Cause E. coli Outbreaks

Agricultural Research Scientists have found that fall harvested romaine is more likely to contain more E. coli bacteria and cause more outbreaks, according to the USDA. Between 1998 and 2019, there were 36 outbreaks traced back to lettuce, particularly romaine lettuce, that was harvested in the fall on the California Central Coast, and in late winter in Southern California and Arizona. The seasonal outbreaks are more frequently associated with commercially grown lettuce harvested at the end of the growing season. The question is why. ARS microbiologist Maria Brand, leader of the study, said in a statement, "To begin unravelling the causes of these seasonal outbreaks, our research team looked at various factors to identify conditions that may increase E. coli survival on fresh-cut … [Read more...]

USDA Tries to Facilitate Traceability During E. coli Outbreaks

The USDA tries to facilitate traceability during E. coli outbreaks by studying how the DNA of a specific population of this pathogen evolves within its natural environment, according to scientists with the Agricultural Research Service (ARS). The findings from scientists at the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center at Clay Center, Nebraska is giving outbreak investigators information on specific elements of the pathogen's DNA that can narrow where to look for the outbreak source. Scientists analyzed samples collected from the USMARC closed cattle feedlot from 1997 to 2910 and then studied the genomes of different subtypes of E. coli O157:H7 that were found in these samples. Maggie Weinroth, a computational biologist with the Poultry Microbiological Safety and Processing Research Unit … [Read more...]

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