Thursday, December 1, 2016

Trader Joe's Hummus Recalled for Listeria

A NC facility is recalling Trader Joe's branded hummus after product testing found Listeria contamination.  The products are packed in 16 ounce plastic tubs with a "C in the plant identification code.   The contamination was discovered "after testing by the company revealed the presence of Listeria monocytogenes in product manufactured on the same equipment."

FDA Recall Notice
Bakkavor Foods USA, Inc. Issues Voluntary Recalls of Certain Hummus Products Because of Possible Health Risks
For Immediate Release
November 30, 2016

US Marshalls Seize Dry Dairy Ingredients from a Virginia Processing Facility

US Marshalls seized dairy products worth nearly $4 million from a Virginia dairy processing facility.  Products were nonfat milk powder and buttermilk powder packaged in 40- and 50-pound bags for further manufacturing.  This comes after regulators, conducted an investigation of the facility,  "observed poor sanitary practices and reviewed the company’s records, which showed positive results for Salmonella in the plant’s internal environmental and finished product samples. FDA investigators observed residues on internal parts of the processing equipment after it had been cleaned by the company and water dripping from the ceiling onto food manufacturing equipment. In addition, environmental swabs collected during the inspection confirmed the presence of Salmonella meleagridis on surfaces food came into contact with after being pasteurized." 

Through the use of whole genome sequencing on the Salmonella samples, it was determined that the strain found was persistant in that facility over time.  "The sampling results indicate that the Salmonella strains from 2016 are nearly identical to Salmonella strains found at the company in 2010, 2011 and 2013. These findings of Salmonella meleagridis at the company dating back several years demonstrate the existence of a persistent strain of Salmonella at this facility."  

No illnesses have been linked to the product to this point, but that may be due to a number of factors such as actual amount of organisms in product, the virulence of the organism, as well as the application of the milk powder and the type of processes used where this was an ingredient.

FDA News Release
Food regulators seize adulterated milk products for food safety violations
For Immediate Release
November 30, 2016

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Jury Verdict of 7.55 Million Awarded Against Pumpkin Farm After Child Infected with E. coli

A jury awarded 7.55 million dollar verdict to a child who contracted an E.coli O57 infection that led to HUS (hemolytic uremic syndrome) after visiting a MN farm / pumpkin stand in 2013.

From the news release:
"Dehn’s Pumpkins offers a Halloween attraction that is open to the public every year. In 2013, children were allowed to pet and feed cows that are raised on the property. Testimony at trial proved that on the day the child visited the facility, manure, contaminated bedding, and hay were in the enclosure where the cows were kept. Manure was also on the cows’ hides and hooves, and on the gate that separated the children from the animals."
"There were no handwashing stations, warning signs, or any other measures to prevent transmission of disease at the facility. The business owners claimed they had no idea that children could get sick by touching animals. They did not take preventive measures because they didn’t think the setting was a risk to children."
"The 10 year old girl went to the farm with her parents on the weekend of October 12 – 13, 2013 and got sick a few days later. At least seven people were sickened in that particular E. coli O157:H7 outbreak. The Minnesota Department of Health linked the illnesses to cows that were in the animal attraction at the farm. At least three of the case patients had bacterial isolates with the same DNA fingerprint."
While this is awful for the child, you have to think every a farm operation that has a petting area for farm animals is reading this and asking themselves if it is worth the risk.  At a minimum, it is important to have handwashing signage and an areas to wash hands.

Food Poisoning Bulletin
Pritzker Hageman Wins $7.55 Million Verdict for Child with HUS E. coli
November 23, 2016 by News Desk Leave a Comment

Man Arrested After IntentionallyContaminating Salad Bar

A California man was arrested after he intentionally contaminated a salad bar with an unknown substance.  A twelve year old reported being sick after eating at the establishment.

ABC10 , KXTV Lake Tahoe, CA
Man arrested for poisoning food in Lake Tahoe
11:17 PM. PST November 22, 2016

Thanksgiving Charity Event Results in Foodborne Illness Including 3 Deaths

An apparent foodborne illness outbreak related to a Thanksgiving charity event has impacted 17 people and caused 3 deaths and 1 hospitalization.  Many of these people were in the "high risk' category.  While the cause and the source have not yet been identified (although this may be similar), here is what is known:
  • Food was prepared at the facility as well as brought from volunteers homes.  Food prepared at the facility included mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy, heated up creame corn and green beans.  Items made at volunteer's homes included turkeys, hams, and sweet potatoes.
  • Pies purchased from local stores.
  • Death ranges: Teens to 70’s
  • Says patients came from at least 3 facilities
  • Symptoms – nausea, diarrhea, vomiting
  • People who became ill got sick within 24-hours of consuming the food
  • In California, non-profits can run this type of event for members and guests without a permit. 
In Pennsylvania, a soup kitchen  operation would also be exempt from requiring a license, but the American Legion where the foods was provided would probably have one.  If the food was being sold rather than given away as a charity event, then a license would probably be required.  The additional concern would be the products that were made at home.  A licenced facility would not be allowed to serve these types of foods (TCS) made at home.

Regardless, it is an important to train volunteers on food safety, such as Cooking for Crowds.  Cases like this are reminders of that.

East Bay Times
Antioch food-related deaths: More cases of sickened patrons
By Aaron Davis |, Matthias Gafni | and Sam Richards |
PUBLISHED: November 29, 2016 at 12:42 pm | UPDATED: November 29, 2016 at 8:46 pm

Salad Leaf Juice Enhances the Growth, Attachment, and Virulence of Salmonella

A study recently published in Applied and Environmental Microbiology shows that juices from leafy greens can enhance the growth, colonization, and virulence of Salmonella.  When chopping salad leaves, juices will be released from the cut surface.  The metabolites in these juices will enhance the growth of Salmonella as well as enhance its ability to form biofilms attaching to the leaf and bag surfaces.  There was even increased virulence.

While no one should avoid eating leafy greens, this study reinforces the need for good practices when growing, harvesting, processing and storing bagged chopped leafy greens.  Contamination on leafy greens is generally low, however, if improperly processed or handled, even a few inconsequential organisms can increase to the point where it becomes a problem.  For storage, bagged chopped salad should always be stored at refrigeration temperatures.

Health News | Wed Nov 30, 2016 | 7:24am EST
Bagged salads may encourage Salmonella growth
By Carolyn Crist

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

FDA Report on Antibiotic Resistance of Bacterial Pathogens Indicates Improvement

The FDA released its 2014 National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System (NARMS) report, which looks at antimicrobial resistance patterns in bacteria isolated from humans, retail meats, and animals at slaughter. Overall, the news is good, in that there have been decreases in bacterial pathogens with antibiotic resistance, or in other cases, the data has been steady, especially with regard to the medically important antibiotic types.

From the report:
  • The prevalence of Salmonella in both retail chicken meat (9.1 percent) and retail ground turkey (5.5 percent) was at its lowest level since retail meat testing began in 2002. The prevalence of Campylobacter in retail chicken meat samples has gradually declined over time to 33 percent, the lowest level since testing began.
  • Approximately 80 percent of human Salmonella isolates are not resistant to any of the tested antibiotics. This has remained relatively stable over the past ten years. Resistance for three critically-important drugs (ceftriaxone, azithromycin, and ciprofloxacin) in human non-typhoidal Salmonella isolates remained below 3 percent.
  • Ceftriaxone, a third generation antibiotic used to treat infections where there is resistance to other antibiotics, has seen a continued decline in  resistance in non-typhoidal Salmonella with the exception of retail turkey meat isolates, where it rose slightly. In cattle, Salmonella isolates from carcasses collected at processing plants, ceftriaxone resistance reached its lowest level (7.6 percent) since 1999. In 2014, ceftriaxone resistance in human Salmonella Heidelberg isolates was 8.5 percent, down from a peak of 24 percent in 2010.   (But there have been some decreases in susceptibility in cattle and increases in resistance by strains of Campylobacter jejuni.)
FDA News Release
FDA Releases 2014 NARMS Integrated Report; Finds Measurable Improvements in Antimicrobial Resistance Levels

November 18, 2016

GAO Finds FDA Technical Assistance Network (TAN) Response Times Slow

The US Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that FDA's Technical Assistance Network (TAN), a system for answering questions regarding FSMA regulations including the produce rule, has been slow in responding to questions.
From the report:
"We asked representatives from industry associations and other organizations we interviewed about their experiences submitting questions to the TAN. These representatives generally told us that wait times for answers from the TAN can be long, and some had not yet received answers to their questions. For example, representatives from one industry association told us it took 4 months to get an answer through the TAN."
While FDA is working on reducing the response times, there are questions that are not as easy to answer.  In some cases, the rule is still under development or the questions are more complex.
".....according to FDA officials, response times to TAN questions may be longer in some cases because agency guidance on the produce rule and other FSMA rules is still under development, and the agency does not want to provide information through the TAN that might conflict with the subsequent guidance. In addition, officials said that while simpler questions can often be addressed immediately by FDA staff that monitor the TAN, about 95 percent of the questions are more complex. These questions are forwarded to subject matter experts within the agency and, consequently, require more time for a response. According to FDA, median response time for questions forwarded to subject matter experts is 22 business days. FDA officials told us that if a question is still unaddressed after 30 days, FDA will send an automated message saying the agency is working on a response; a second automated message is sent after 60 days if the question is still unresolved."
These rules are new for many including the FDA, and many components of the rule have not yet been worked out for every permutation  So while delays in response times are completely understandable, I think that FDA officials and their surrogates need to acknowledge this when suggesting people go to the TAN for answers.  And considering that FDA technical support staff have a hard time answering these questions, this needs to be taken into account when inspectors are doing facility inspections.

GAO Release
Food Safety:
FDA's Efforts to Evaluate and Respond to Business Concerns Regarding the Produce Rule

GAO-17-98R: Published: Nov 28, 2016. Publicly Released: Nov 28, 2016.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Three Recalls of Cooked Meat Products After Customers Complained of Undercooked Appearance

In the past few weeks, there have been three recalls of cooked meat products after customers/consumers complained that the product appeared to be undercooked.  The recalls were for firms located in OK, GA, and MO.  It is interesting in that these companies must have not been able to demonstrate that the suspect products had been properly cooked, and thus, they felt the need to do a recall.

Of course if the meat had not been fully cooked, there is the potential for pathogens such as Salmonella.
National Steak and Poultry Recalls Food Service Ready-To-Eat Chicken That May Be Undercooked
Class I Recall115-2016
Health Risk: HighNov 23, 2016