November 29, 2021

Five Outbreak Investigations on USDA Table; Two Are Active

There are five outbreak investigations on the USDA outbreak response table for 2021 only two are active. That table, like the FDA's CORE Investigation table, does not give much information to the public about the outbreaks. The USDA says that "The table does not include outbreak investigations that did not result in one more of the outcomes." Those outcomes include a recall of an FSIS-regulated product linked to the illnesses, a public health alert, and/or an after-action review report. The inactive outbreaks include an E. coli O145 outbreak that officials suspect is linked to ground beef; an E. coli O157:H7 outbreak of unknown origin that does have a link to a CDC Investigation Notice; and a Listeria monocytogenes outbreak of unknown origin. The E. coli O157:H7 outbreak CDC … [Read more...]

Did You Get Unsolicited Seed Packets in the Mail? The USDA Has Answers

Did you get unsolicited seed packets in the mail in the past few months? The USDA has some answers. The government received thousands of reports from people who got these packets and has completed a months-long investigation. The USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is providing guidance to help people, as well as those who buy plants and seeds online from other countries. U.S. consumers began receiving strange packets of seeds in the mail starting in July 2020. Some were sent to recipients unsolicited, but others were those people ordered, since they were unaware that they were coming from a foreign country. Most of these shipments are illegal since they came into the country without a permit or a phytosanitary certificate. Plant Protection and Quarantine … [Read more...]

What Are the Symptoms of Common Food Allergies?

Food Poisoning Bulletin publishes recalls of food for undeclared allergens from the FDA, USDA, and CFIA every week. These recalls affect just about every food on the market. Food allergies can cause reactions that range from mild to life-threatening. So what are the symptoms of common food allergies? People can be born with food allergies, or they can appear at any time during the lifespan without warning. Some people grow out of their allergies, while others are lifelong. And children are more likely to be allergic to foods than adults. There are some symptoms that are common to most allergens. They include tingling of the mouth, lips, and tongue; itching, rash, and hives; congestion or runny nose; nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. These are usually early symptoms that may appear … [Read more...]

History of E. coli O145 Outbreaks in the United States

There are three active multistate food poisoning outbreaks on the USDA outbreak table: One is for an outbreak caused by Listeria monocytogenes, one caused by Shiga toxin-producing E. coli O157:H7, and one caused by Shiga toxin-producing E. coli O145 bacteria. The last one may be linked to ground beef. Let's look at the history of E. coli O145 outbreaks. What is the history of E. coli O145 outbreaks in the United States? This pathogen is part of the Big Six STEC bacteria group that the USDA classified as adulterants back in 2011. The government started testing for the bacteria as part of a zero tolerance policy in 2012, but it has not been linked to many outbreaks. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there was a multistate outbreak caused by E. coli O145 … [Read more...]

Three Unsolved Multistate Outbreaks on USDA Investigations Table

There are three unsolved multistate outbreaks on the USDA foodborne illness investigation table. This is a companion table to the FDA's Core Outbreak Investigation Table. One is a Listeria monocytogenes outbreak with an unknown source; the second is a Shiga toxin-producing E. coli O145 outback that may be linked to ground beef; and the third is a Shiga toxin-producing E. coil o157:H7 outbreak with an unknown source.   The E. coli O157:H7 outbreak was announced by the CDC yesterday. There are sixteen people in five states sickened in that outbreak. The USDA and FDA are investigating, which means that any type of food could be connected to the outbreak. Nine people have been hospitalized, which is a very high rate for this type of outbreak, and one person in Washington has … [Read more...]

USDA Withdraws Controversial Poultry Line Speed Rule

On Friday, January 22, 2021, the USDA withdrew a controversial poultry line speed rules from the previous administration that would have rolled back line-speed standards at poultry plants. The first such proposal was made by the Obama administration in 2012. At the time, and over the last nine years, food safety experts and consumer advocates have opposed increasing these speeds, which whip poultry carcasses past inspectors at three birds per second. Executive Director of Food and Water Watch's Wenoah Hauter, said in a statement, "Such speeds would have made it nearly impossible for inspectors to properly due their jobs and ensure food safety and public health." She continued, "We’re pleased that the Biden administration has resisted the bidding of the immensely powerful … [Read more...]

2020 Meat and Poultry Recalls Hit All-Time Low

In-Depth Analysis From Food Poisoning Bulletin Who’s Been Minding our Meat? When Food Poisoning Bulletin began a review of food recalls in 2020, we discovered there had been a dramatic decline in the number of recalls for meat and poultry but not for other food products. To find out why, we analyzed five years of recall data published by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (USDA FSIS), the federal agency that regulates meat, poultry, and egg products. Our research showed that meat and poultry recalls plummeted to an all-time low this year. Just 29 recalls were issued for meat and poultry in 2020 (through December 10) and only one of them was for bacterial contamination. Those numbers are a fraction of the annual averages since 2016 - 128  total … [Read more...]

How E. coli, Salmonella and Listeria Recalls Prevent Serious Illness

When Food Poisoning Bulletin began a review of food recalls in 2020, we discovered there had been a dramatic decline in the number of recalls for meat and poultry but not for other food products. To find out why, we looked at five years of recall data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (USDA FSIS), the federal agency that regulates meat, poultry, and eggs. A decline in the number of recalls for bacterial contamination is concerning. To read our in-depth analysis, click here. Bacterial Contamination in Meat is Serious E. coli, Listeria and Salmonella are bacteria that cause typical food poisoning symptoms when they are ingested but each of them can also cause serious illness and death. That’s why companies that produce food are required to have … [Read more...]

FSIS Foodborne Illness Outbreaks For Fiscal Year 2019

The USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has released its summary of FSIS foodborne illness outbreaks for fiscal year 2019 that involved FSIS-regulated products. The four pathogens that most often affect those products are Salmonella, Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC), Listeria monocytogenes, and Campylobacter. During fiscal year 2019, FSIS investigated 16 outbreaks that sickened about 1000 people and hospitalized more than 175 patients. 94% of these outbreaks involved illnesses in more than one state. Salmonella was the most common pathogen in these outbreaks, followed by STEC, and Listeria monocytogenes. Beef and chicken were the most common food products of interest. Salmonella serotypes in these outbreaks included Blockley, Enteritidis, Newport, Rissen, and … [Read more...]

Keep Thanksgiving Leftovers Safe With Tips From the USDA

Happy Thanksgiving! Keep Thanksgiving leftovers safe with tips from the USDA. Since the meal for this holiday is usually quite large, you will most likely have lots of leftovers, which must be stored properly to prevent food poisoning. The temperature danger zone for perishable foods is 40°F to 140°F. In that range, bacteria in foods can double every 20 minutes. First, remember the two hour rule. All perishable foods must be refrigerated within two hours of coming out of the oven or out of the fridge for serving. This time decreases to one hour if the ambient air temperature is above 90°F. To make sure that food cools down quickly and gets through the danger zone fast, divide food into smaller amounts and package in shallow containers. When you have stored the food in the … [Read more...]

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