Sunday, March 29, 2015

Edible Marijuana Being Tied to Suicide

A young man shot himself and the family is blaming legal edible marijuana.  This case, as well as two other deaths, come after the individual ate more than the recommended dose.

Hard not to see that there will be issues here when you put marijuana in the form of cookies or candy.  'One is tasty, and two are even tastier'....before you know it, you have exceeded what you should have eaten.  It is hard to regulate how much someone will eat unless you control the dosage in the food so that you would have to eat your fill before you achieve a maximum dosage.  Clearly, that may be an issue here.  I guess I just don't understand why you would want to put it in a form that is easy to over indulge.  Even more so, would be form that children may consume if left in a accessible location.

One misconception is that it is not the overdose killing the person (toxic affecting physical function) but the fact that when one overdoses, they act in a manner that may be harmful...that is, it affects mental function.  And each person may be different in how it affects them.

USA Today
Family thinks death of man was tied to edible pot
Trevor Hughes, USA TODAY 6:01 p.m. EDT March 26, 2015

KEYSTONE, Colo. — An Oklahoma man shot himself while on a ski vacation with his family, which blames his death on an overdose of marijuana-infused candy.

Luke Gregory Goodman, 22, of Tulsa, Okla., died Tuesday after two days on life support, officials said. Goodman ate the marijuana candies Saturday afternoon then shot himself about 10 p.m. MT, officials said.

An autopsy has not yet been completed, but the Summit County Coroner's Office said his death was "consistent with a suicide."

Toxicology reports are pending in Goodman's death. Goodman's family said he bought the legal edibles at a nearby marijuana store in this town about 60 miles west of Denver and ate five pieces, the equivalent of five doses.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Foodborne Illness Outbreak at Philly Restaurant Sickens Dozens of ....Lawyers

A Philly restaurant is being linked to dozens of illness that occurred during a banquet for law students.  The City of Philadelphia has not released much information.  The report indicated the illness was due to a Norovirus infection, which would mean that it was a personal hygiene issue, specifically an employee related issue, probably one was ill. On the other side, it could have been one of the attendees or another patron who may have contaminated a food bar.  (The symptoms and duration appeared to be more similar to Salmonella).

The City of Philadelphia recently had another issue with a restaurant that continued to operate even though it had a leaking sewer line.

Dozens sickened at banquet, but city can say little
It is one of Philadelphia's largest outbreaks, but officials are allowed to say little.

Sam Wood,
Posted: Friday, March 27, 2015, 5:00 AM

In one of the largest outbreaks of suspected foodborne illness in Philadelphia, nearly 100 lawyers and law students were sickened last month after attending a banquet celebrating the Lunar New Year in Chinatown.

But even though the restaurant has a history of food-safety problems stretching back several years, the city Health Department says it cannot publicly discuss details of its investigation, citing a 1955 state law.

That law hasn't silenced the outbreak's victims.

About 250 people attended the feast Feb. 27 at Joy Tsin Lau, the venerable dim sum restaurant at 10th and Race Streets. Dozens of the diners reported that they felt the first symptoms two mornings later.

West Philly Restaurant with leaking sewer line continued to operate for 4 days

A West Philadelphia McDonald's continued to operate after having a sewage leak...for at least 4 days.  By regulation, they are required to notify the city, and in the case here where the situation cannot be immediately fixed, they would be required to shut down.

And it was not like the restaurant didn't was so bad they installed porta-potties in the parking lot.  It was not until a consumer complained to the City because the restaurant smelled

W. Phila. McDonald's leaked sewage for days

LAST UPDATED: Friday, March 20, 2015, 1:08 AM

As the stench of backed-up sewage permeated the restaurant, a West Philadelphia McDonald's continued selling Big Macs, Quarter Pounders, and fries over four days last fall, installing porta-potties in the parking lot but never notifying the city, which would have ordered a closure.

A complaint led the Philadelphia Department of Public Health to dispatch an inspector to the franchise at 52d Street and Columbia Avenue on Sept. 15. She found ruptured plumbing in both restrooms and "smelled sewage throughout the facility."

"The Person in Charge failed to notify the Department of an imminent health hazard and cease operations. Establishment has been operating with raw sewage backup for at least 4 days," La'Sandra Malone-Mesfin wrote in her report. She listed 24 violations, four of which were related to the plumbing.

There is no evidence that any customers or employees got sick, although most cases of food-borne illness go unreported nationwide.

Raw sewage in a restaurant is "a very high-risk situation," said Caroline Johnson, disease-control director for the city health department, who was talking generally.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Arsenic in Wine - Is It Worth the Worry?

A guy who owns a testing laboratory is filing a lawsuit against wine makers, claiming that the wine has too much arsenic.  He tested over 1300 bottles of wine and found that 80ish had levels up to 50 ppb (parts per billion).

Should one worry?  Of course the mass media would have you worry (CBS News Report). 

EPA has set a level of 10ppb in drinking water.  And that level is based on drinking 2 L of water per day.  Certainly if you are drinking 2 L of wine per day everyday, your liver has bigger issues from the alcohol.

FDA has proposed a limit of 10 ppb for fruit juice, and although that is low, it was done considering that children are the top juice drinkers.  But I don't see a lot of children drinking wine.

The EU has a limit of 200 ppb of arsenic, and the Canadians have a limit of 100ppb.  So all of these wines would be safe for sale in Europe and Canada.

Arsenic is naturally found in nature, and can be found in many foods in low levels.

On topics such as this, we like to say that if you are still concerned from the risk, don't drink wine....the more for the rest of us (of course, always consumed in a responsible way). 

NPR - The Salt
Arsenic In California Wines: Should Drinkers Be Concerned?
MARCH 25, 2015 4:12 PM ET


There's been a lot of buzz around the story that some inexpensive California wines, including a Charles Shaw (aka two-buck Chuck) white Zinfandel sold at Trader Joe's, have been found to contain traces of arsenic.

The wines were tested by a commercial laboratory called BeverageGrades. And alawsuit filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court against a group of wine producers claims two other labs confirmed tests that found arsenic levels in some wines exceeded what is allowed in drinking water.

With headlines like "Very High Levels of Arsenic" In Top-Selling Wines (from CBS's website), it's not a surprise that some wine drinkers are mystified. Since more than a few burning questions crossed our minds here at The Salt, we went looking for answers.

How does arsenic end up in food and wine?

Blue Bell Ice Cream Expands Recall Due to Listeria

Blue Bell is expanding their recall  to include  oz. institutional/food service ice cream cups- chocolate, strawberry and vanilla with tab lids because they have the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.  This comes after Blue Bell Ice Cream was identified as a source of contamination in a set of hospital related illnesses and deaths.

FDA Recall Notice
Blue Bell Ice Cream Recalls 3 oz. Institutional/Food Service Ice Cream Cups – Chocolate, Strawberry, Vanilla (Tab Lid) – Because of Possible Health Risk


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE — March 23, 2015 —Blue Bell Ice Cream of Brenham, Texas, is recalling three 3 oz. institutional/food service ice cream cups- chocolate, strawberry and vanilla with tab lids because they have the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes, an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Although healthy individuals may suffer only short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea, Listeria infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women.

On March 22, the Kansas Department of Health & Environment reported one positive test for Listeria monocytogenes on a chocolate institutional/food service cup recovered from a hospital in Wichita, Kan. This cup was produced in the Broken Arrow, Okla., plant on April 15, 2014. These cups are not sold thru retail outlets such as convenience stores and supermarkets.

The ice cream cups listed below were distributed in Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and Wyoming via food service accounts.

Ice Cream Cup Chocolate (3 FL OZ) No UPC - SKU #453
Ice Cream Cup Strawberry (3 FL OZ) No UPC - SKU #452
Ice Cream Cup Vanilla (3 FL OZ) No UPC – SKU #451

There have been no reported illnesses to date.

This recall in no way includes Blue Bell Ice Cream half gallons, pints, quarts, 3 gallons or other 3 oz. cups.

Listeria Contamination in Bulk Organic Frozen Spinach Results in a Number of Recalls

A number of spinach products are being recalled due to the fact that bulk frozen spinach supplied by Coastal Green Vegetable Company LLC of Oxnard, CA, was found to have Listeria contamination.  This bulk spinach was repacked by Twin City Foods into smaller bags for grocery stores as well as by Superior Foods that packed for Target. Recalls were also made by Amy's Kitcehn Carmel Food Group, and La Terra Fina for products made using the suspect spinach as an ingredient.

Spinach is blanched before freezing.  Blanching, if done correctly, would eliminate the Listeria.  The issue is with post-blanching contamination.  Listeria is a known environmental bacterial pathogen that can become established in processing facilities.  If not controlled, it can contaminate the spinach after blanching in the freezing and packing steps.

While cooking by the consumer would eliminate the pathogen, spinach is often used in dips and other products such as spinach smoothies where there may be little or no heating.  There is an increasing trend of using spinach in these RTE applications.  This poses a problem for those facilities that are built for RTE level of processing.

There have been no reported illnesses.

FDA Recall Notice
Twin City Foods, Inc. Recalls Frozen Cadia Organic Cut Spinach, Meijer Organics Chopped Spinach, Wild Harvest Organic Cut Leaf Spinach, and Wegmans Organic Just Picked Spinach Because of Possible Health Risk

Contact:  Consumer:
(804) 385-3772

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE — March 24, 2015 — Twin City Foods, Inc. of Stanwood, Washington is recalling the following products because they have the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes, an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Although healthy individuals may suffer only short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea, listeria infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Catfish and USDA Regulations - The Issue of Unintended Consequences and The One Food Agency Solution

In a New York Times article, a case study of how unintended consequences of a regulatory change has challenged the catfish industry.  The catfish industry wanted protection against imports, and so asked to be regulated as part of the USDA inspection.  It is however, not working out as intended.

Looking at the proposals being made to transition food safety oversight to one agency, it is not the things considered that will be a challenge, but all of the unintended consequences that follow.

NY Times
Catfish Farmers, Seeking Regulation to Fight Foreign Competition, Face Higher Bills


WASHINGTON — In 2008, faced with increased competition from Vietnam and China, catfish producers in the United States did the unthinkable: They asked for more regulation of their industry.

Congress concurred and agreed to move the inspection of foreign and domestically produced catfish from the Food and Drug Administration to a more rigorous program at the Agriculture Department. The process, however, has dragged on for nearly seven years.

Now, as the Obama administration prepares to finalize the inspection regulations, domestic catfish farmers may have received more than they bargained for, experts say.

More rigorous inspections could cost an already beleaguered industry millions of dollars to comply with the new regulations, potentially driving more catfish farmers out of the business and costing hundreds of jobs in the rural South, said John Sackton, a seafood industry analyst.