Thursday, July 27, 2017

Papaya's Recalled After Linked to Salmonella Outbreak.

A Maryland distributor, Grande Produce, is recalling Cariberia brand of papaya maradol after it was linked to a Salmonella outbreak where there were 47 cases.   The impacted product was shipped July 10 to July 19, so it is unlikely that any of this perishable produce is still around.

While much of the product was pulled back from the distributors, the company should have issued a public recall.  This recall comes a week after Maryland Dept of Ag first issued a warning.

FDA Recall Notice
Grande Produce Issues Voluntary Recall of Limited Quantity of Papaya “Caribeña” Due to Potential Health Risk
For Immediate Release
July 26, 2017

Rogue Employee Posting Photos of Moldy Equipment Goes Viral - Gains International Media Attention

 A new reality for food operations, especially large foodservice chains - a reported issue at one store within a chain that impacts the entire corporation.  This was recently the case for Chipotle where an outbreak at one store gained international attention dropping the company's stock price.  Now a case at a McDonalds store, where a rouge employee posted pictures online of a piece of ice cream equipment that had mold. [Yeah, he could have cleaned it, but instead decided to post pictures online..nice].   Unfortunately, this has gained international attention, being reported in major news media outlets around the world.

Clearly this was not an issue you want to see, but the overall cost of an issue like this can be huge, rippling back in the food chain to the ingredient manufacturers, transporters, etc.  Maintaining a tight system across hundreds or thousands of outlets can be tough.  So it is not only important to have systems in place for running a clean operation, but having systems that encourage employees to report issues, or even handle issues.  Good hiring practices also help.

Former McDonald’s Employee Unearths Gross Find Hidden Within McFlurry Machine
Natasha Hinde Lifestyle writer at HuffPost UK

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Failure to Enforce Employee Sick Policy May Be Root to Chipotle Outbreak

In a CNBC news article, investigators found what could be a systemic issue in the under-enforcement of the employee sick policy that keeps ill workers home rather than working.  It is reported that managers from various stores were not executing the policies and forcing workers while ill.

Many have stated that norovirus is also seen at other chains but we just don't hear about it.  And while there is validity to the point that the news media and the business investors are hyper-aware of issues at Chipotle, my point is that the restaurant managers and employees should have been hyper-aware of the need to adhere to policies including the employee health policies, especially in light of the past issues that the chain has suffered.

The US Food Code states that employees who have diarrhea, are vomiting, or have jaundice must be excluded from the workplace.  Company's employee health policies must adhere to this in order to prevent the spread of foodborne illness from organisms such as Hepatitis A, norovirus, Salmonella, STEC E. coli, and Shigella.  These organisms are highly infectious and can be easily passed to consumers via food, especially ready-to-eat food.

Chipotle's recent norovirus outbreak was the result of lax sick-policy enforcement
  • A self-identified Chipotle employee alleged in a Reddit post last month that a manager required them to work while sick.
  • A Chipotle employee from a different state told CNBC that it was only after the norovirus outbreak last week that their manager began enforcing the sick policy.
  • Chipotle's sick policy may not be the only one that managers are overlooking.
Sarah Whitten | @sarahwhit10 

Monday, July 24, 2017

Foodbank recalls 27,000 lbs of Food for Loss of Temperature Control

The Idaho Foodbank is recalling various products after it was discovered that the cooler temperatures were not maintained.  The issue was discovered after reviewing cooler temperature records.

These are the types of issues that should never occur if daily record reviews are completed.  This not only goes for manufacturing operations, but also for foodservice, retail, and volunteer organizations such as foodbanks.

FDA Recall Notice
The Idaho Foodbank Recalls Coconut Beverage, Broccoli Cheddar Soup, Eggs, and Cheese Product Because Of Possible Health Risk
For Immediate Release
July 21, 2017

Canned Beans Recalled Due to a Supplier-related Can Seam Issue

Bush Brothers and Company is recalling 28oz cans of Bush Bean products after a defective can side-seam was detected.  This is a can supplier issue in that wielding of the seam on the side of the can is done by the can supplier.  

A defective can seam may result in loss of container integrity, allowing bacteria into the can.
Baked Beans Voluntary Recall Notice
A Message For Our Customers
July 22, 2017

Salmonella Outbreak Associated with Papayas

FDA and CDC are reporting that 47 have become ill with a particular strain of Salmonella from Cariberia brand Maradol papaya.  According to the FDA report, "The FDA, CDC, MDH and other state and local officials are investigating Salmonella Kiambu and Salmonella Thompson illnesses linked to Caribeña brand Maradol papayas from Mexico distributed by Grande Produce disclaimer icon in San Juan, TX."

FDA Outbreak
FDA Investigates Multiple Salmonella Outbreak Strains Linked to Papayas

Friday, July 21, 2017

Chipotle Rocked by News of Norovirus Outbreak and Rodent Video

There are now 60 cases of Norovirus that are being linked to a Chipotle restaruant in northern VA. The health department stated that one patron has tested positive, but it there is still insufficient evidence to identify the source.  The restaurant was closed for a day, but reopened on the 20th of July, after being closed for a day.

The outbreak was initially posted on a non-regulatory website on the 18th..  According to an article on CNBC, "So far eight cases between July 14 and July 17 were reported to, a website that allows users to report when they get sick after eating at a restaurant. Business Insider was alerted to the issues at the restaurant by the site, and then published a story."   Immediately, this news hit the major mass news media outlets including the Wall Street Journal and NY Times.  

With that, the stock price dropped by 5%.  Stock prices continued to slide, and with a release of a rat video (which was really mice) on the internet did not help.  The stock has dropped a whopping $40 per share in the last five days.

Just goes to show how hard it is to recover once a bad reputation is developed.

Loudoun County Health Dept.
Posted on: July 20, 2017
Health Department Updates Investigation of Reports of Illness at Chipotle Mexican Grill in Sterling

Laboratory Related Salmonella Outbreak - A Reminder about Pathogen Control for Those Doing Testing

CDC is reporting that 24 people in 16 states have become ill with an outbreak strain of Salmonella Typhimurium.  A few important points for facilities that are doing their own testing:
  • Laboratories need to have and adhere to strict cleaning and sanitizing protocols.  There is a lot of emphasis on cleaning and sanitizing in the food production facilities, but unfortunately, this may not be as strictly enforced in the laboratories.  
  • Laboratories located in food production facilities need to recognize they are a high risk source for pathogens, especially if those laboratories are using methods that enrich for pathogens such as Salmonella or Listeria.  Laboratories need to verify cleaning through environmental monitoring.  Control of access for people and materials in and out of the laboratories must be in place.
  • Pathogens are highly infectious, so people working in the laboratories must adhere to proper personal hygiene protocols.  Not only can these pathogens represent a risk to food produced, but there is also a risk for laboratory workers as well as family or friends of those workers.
We have all seen laboratories where too much is taken for granted.  That is, cleaning off the bench top or keeping it under the hood is all that one needs to do.  But when working with bacteria that are, or may be pathogens, a test tube, a petri dish, or sample card can have levels in the millions of cells per gram or ml.  Considering it may take as few as 10 cells or less to make someone ill, it is easy for a small amount to make it past rudimentary cleaning procedures.  (I know, there are some of you that used to mouth-pipet this stuff).

Infection Control Today
Human Salmonella Typhimurium Infections Linked to Exposure to Microbiology Labs
July 19, 2017

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

CDC Report on Foodborne Illness Associated with Fish

Each year people become ill from eating contaminated fish.  CDC issued a report on data from their surveillance system on the agents and the types of fish in the period 1998 to 2015.  Table 2 from that report (ref below) provides a nice summary of those findings that link agent and the source of fish:
Scombrotoxin is the leading agent of foodborne illness associated with fish and it is found in tuna and mahi-mahi.  Scombrotoxin is due to histamine formation as a byproduct of microbial activity as that fish meat spoils when it is temperature abused.   The symptoms are similar to what you would have during an allergic reaction.  This toxin is not destroyed by heating.

Ciquatoxin is found associated with tropical predator fish such as grouper and barracuda when those fish eat smaller fish that have eaten a particular types of dinoflagellate (type of plankton).  The toxin bioaccumulates in the predator fish.  There are gastrointestinal issues, but the biggest issue are the neurological affects  that include headaches, muscle aches, numbness, and cold allodynia -  a burning sensation on contact with cold.  These symptoms can persist for weeks to months.  The toxin is heat stable.

Foodborne Pathog Dis. 2017 Jul 6. doi: 10.1089/fpd.2017.2286. [Epub ahead of print]
Fish-Associated Foodborne Disease Outbreaks: United States, 1998-2015.
Barrett KA1, Nakao JH1, Taylor EV2, Eggers C3, Gould LH1.