Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Extension Event Linked to Salmonella Outbreak

A Salmonella outbreak occurred at a Cooperative Extension sponsored workshop in Alabama, resulting in at least 19 cases of salmonellosis.  Workshop volunteers and seniors became ill after eating food served during the luncheon, which featured chicken, salad, and a roll.

This topic is one that resonates with many of us since we often sponsor events where others are responsible for serving food.  As can be seen in this case, the sponsoring organization's name is tied to it (although the church may have cooked the food).  But guess who is going to receive the negative media exposure?  In this news story, Extension Educator's name is even listed.

Also stated in the news report is that one senior unfortunately died, although the direct link has not been established....yet.  If a link is established and a lawsuit is filed, who will have the deepest pockets - the church who made the food or the Extension system that sponsored the event?

Whether you are contracting out production to a company, or counting on volunteers from an organization to make your food, when your name is on it, you better have more than hope that they are doing a good job?  Are the members of that organization trained?  Are they ensuring that the critical controls are being met (in this case, cooking the chicken to the right temperature)?  Do they run a clean operation with an eye on preventing cross contamination?

So the person sponsoring the event is not an expert on food preparation? In this case, the event was focused on senior issues, but it could be 4H, Master Gardners, or even natural gas.  While we can hope, wouldn't it be better to: 1) get training, 2) ensure that the organization has the right credentials (trained, inspected, etc),  and/or 3) get someone involved who can help you ensure that food is safe.

At least 19 ill after eating chicken lunch

Staff report | 0 comments 

Two dozen or more people who attended a workshop on senior citizens services last month in Decatur may have contracted salmonella or the E. coli virus from a chicken lunch.

Michael Tubbs, executive director of Community Action Partnership in Decatur, said about two dozen of his volunteers and employees became sick after eating the lunch May 30 at Bridge Builders Church on Beltline Road.

71-year-old Decatur man died six days after eating the food, but no cause of death has been confirmed.

The Alabama Cooperative Extension Service sponsored the luncheon, and extension agent A Renee’ Heard was the contact person, Tubbs said. Heard did not return phone calls this week.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Cheese Product Recalled Due to Low Preservative Levels

Kraft is recalling a small amount of cheese product due to the fact it did not contain a sufficient amount of the preservative, sorbic acid.  Sorbic acid is effective in preventing the growth of yeast and mold.  With inadequate amounts, there would be a greater chance that the product would spoil due to mold or yeast growing on the product during the expected shelf-life of the product.   By recalling this product, Kraft prevents a bigger issue down the road if there were to be numerous complaints of moldy product.

Could this be a safety issue....probably not since it is unlikely that people would eat cheese with mold on it, however some people can have allergic reactions to mold and some molds due produce mycotoxins (which can be harmful).

 FDA News Release
Kraft Foods Group Voluntarily Recalls Small Quantity of Velveeta Original Pasteurized Recipe Cheese Product Due to Low Levels of Preservative Ingredient

Consumer:  800-310-3704
Media: Russ Dyer 847-646-4538

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - June 19, 2014- Kraft Foods Group is voluntarily recalling 260 cases of Velveeta Original Pasteurized Recipe Cheese Product because it does not contain appropriate levels of sorbic acid, a preservative ingredient. While unlikely, the affected product could spoil prematurely and/or lead to food borne illness. Therefore, the company is issuing this recall as a precaution.

This recall affects one batch of product made on one manufacturing line during a few hours of production. The product was shipped to three Walmart distribution centers and may have been redistributed to stores in up to 12 Midwest states. The affected products may have been shipped to Walmart stores in Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin. These products were not shipped outside of the U.S.

The following specific batch of product is being recalled:
Product SizeName of ProductUnits / CaseCase Code Date/Time TangeCase UPC CodeConsumer Package Code Date/Time RangeConsumer Package UPC Code
10:54 - 14:35 ONLY
1002100061161117 DEC 2014
09:34 - 13:15

Consumers can find the case code date on the side of the package. No other products outside this time period on this case code date are affected by this recall, nor are any other Kraft or Velveeta products affected.

The affected product was identified during a review of finished product samples. The company is taking action to ensure it doesn't happen again.

Consumers who purchased any of these products should not eat them. They should return them to the store where they purchased them for an exchange or full refund. Consumers also can contact Kraft Foods Consumer Relations at 1-800-310-3704 between 9 am and 6 pm {Eastern).

Monday, June 16, 2014

Clover Sprouts Linked to E. coli Outbreak

 CDC is reporting that a total of 17 people have become ill from E. coli STEC and this has been linked to raw closer sprouts.  Product was made in Idaho.  Illnesses have been identified in 5 states (ID, MI, MT, UT, and WA).

Raw seed sprouts are a high risk food.  Sprouts have been involved in a number of outbreaks of Salmonella, and in this cases as well as the massive outbreak in Germany, STEC E. coli.

CDC News Release
Multistate Outbreak of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli O121 Infections Linked to Raw Clover Sprouts
Posted June 10, 2014 3:30 PM ET
  • As of June 9, 2014, a total of 17 persons infected with the outbreak strain of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli O121 (STEC O121) have been reported from five states.
  • The number of ill persons identified in each state is as follows: Idaho (3), Michigan (1), Montana (2), Utah (1), and Washington (10).
  • 47% of ill persons have been hospitalized. No ill persons have developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), and no deaths have been reported.
  • Epidemiology and traceback investigations conducted by local, state, and federal officials indicated that contaminated raw clover sprouts produced by Evergreen Fresh Sprouts, LLC of Idaho are the likely source of this outbreak.
  • In interviews, 12 (86%) of 14 ill persons reported eating raw clover sprouts in the week before becoming ill.
  • Raw clover sprouts have not been recalled from Evergreen Fresh Sprouts. Because contaminated sprouts may still be available on the market, CDC recommends that consumers do not eat any raw clover sprouts produced by Evergreen Fresh Sprouts.
  • The Washington State Department of Health and the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare are also advising people not to eat raw clover sprouts produced by Evergreen Fresh Sprouts.

Eat Fish, the Benefit Outweighs the Risk

 FDA recently provided guidance that pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers and young children should be eating fish.  For many years, women have avoided eating seafood due to the potential for that seafood may contain Methylmercury. a neurotoxin that can be harmful to the brain and nervous system if a person is exposed to too much of it.  Of course, this could be a concern for child development.  FDA revised previous advise because the nutrients in seafood, namely the omega 3 fatty acids are really good for health - including brain function and cardiovascular health.

Now some fish are better than others in that some species are more likely to have higher amounts, so these fish should be avoided by high risk groups - Tilefish from the Gulf of Mexico, shark, swordfish, and king mackerel.

Eggs were once demonized because of cholesterol, but now we realize that they aren't bad.  So we see once again a balanced diet that incorporates a wide variety of foods is important.   It is important to evaluate the benefits as well as the risks, and make sure that we are not giving up a lot of food because we are afraid of a little of the bad.

 FDA News Release
Fish: What Pregnant Women and Parents Should Know
Draft Updated Advice by FDA and EPA

June 2014

The FDA and the EPA are revising their joint fish consumption Advice and Questions & Answers to encourage pregnant women, those who may become pregnant, breastfeeding mothers, and young children to eat more fish and to eat a variety of fish from choices that are lower in mercury. This is a DRAFT for which you may provide comment. Once finalized, it will replace the current advice which was issued in 2004.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Lean, Finely Textured Beef (aka Pink Slime) Making a Comeback; Lawsuit Against News Media Moves Forward

As beef prices continue to rise, it looks as though people are starting to look at lean, finely texturized beef as a low cost alternative.  As USDA has said, there are no risks associated with the product.

At the same time, the lawsuit by the producer of LFTB against the ABC news moves forward.  In this case, BPI, the producer, claims the news outlet's unfair labeling of the product as unsafe caused the company to lose billions.

Fox News                        
Pink slime is having a comeback
Published May 27, 2014
Facebook274 Twitter203 Gplus

Two years after the public backlash against pink slime, sales of processed beef byproduct are rebounding, thanks to soaring beef prices.

Execs of Egg Company Plead Guilty to Selling Contaminated Eggs

 The executives of the Iowa Egg Producer that was responsible for selling eggs that sickened thousands with Salmonella pleaded guilty.  The company will pay 6.8 million in fines and the executives face up to a year in prison and additional fines.

The Iowa Egg Salmonella Outbreak occurred back in 2010.  CDC reported in December of 2010 that 1,939 individuals became infected with Salmonella.  In addition to causing the illnesses, the company ,Quality Egg, pleaded guilty to "giving cash bribes to a U.S. Department of Agriculture inspector to approve and allow poor-quality chicken eggs to be sold to the public; introducing adulterated food into interstate commerce, according to the DOJ" and selling eggs mislabeled to hide how old they were by having its employees affix labels to egg shipments that had false expiration dates with the "intent to mislead state regulators and retail egg customers regarding the true age of the eggs,"

UPDATE 1-Quality Egg admits to selling tainted eggs, bribing official

Tue Jun 3, 2014 2:54pm EDT
By P.J. Huffstutter

CHICAGO, June 3 (Reuters) - Quality Egg LLC and two top executives on Tuesday admitted to selling substandard eggs containing a "poisonous" substance and bribing a federal inspector in a food-safety scandal that sickened tens of thousands, the U.S. Department of Justice said.

The Iowa-based company, once among the United States' largest producers of shelled chicken eggs, along with owners Austin and Peter DeCoster, pleaded guilty Tuesday to federal charges in connection with the massive nationwide salmonella outbreak in 2010.

Dry Pet Food Recalled After Small Quantity of Suspect Product Is Shipped

A pet food manufacture is recalling its dry dog food for potential Salmonella contamination.  It appears from the text that the product was on hold and got released by accident.  There were only 62 bags involved.  From the release below: 
This product was accidentally released, as revealed during a routine inventory reconciliation. All 17 affected customers have been contacted by Hill’s and there have been no reported illnesses related to this product to date.

This is a good reminder for companies to ensure that 'hold' product does not inadvertently get shipped.  This company will get a lot of bad publicity and a potential FDA visit all for 62 bags of dog food.  Also, many retailers of that product line will use this as an opportunity to return slow moving product.  It has the potential to be a very costly error.

FDA Recall Notice
Hill’s Pet Nutrition, Inc. Voluntarily Recalls 62 Bags of “Science Diet® Adult Small & Toy Breed™” Dry Dog Food in California, Hawaii and Nevada Because of Potential Health Risk
Contact Consumer: 1-800-445-5777

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - June 2, 2014 - Hill’s Pet Nutrition, Inc. of Topeka, KS is voluntarily recalling 62 bags of Science Diet® Adult Small & Toy Breed™ dry dog food as they have the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella. The suspect product, part of a single production run, was distributed to 17 veterinary clinic and pet store customers in California, Hawaii and Nevada between April 24 and May 13, 2014. Salmonella can affect animals eating the products and there is risk to humans from handling contaminated pet products, especially if they have not thoroughly washed their hands after having contact with the products or any surfaces exposed to these products.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Salmonella cases linked to sprouted chia seed powder

Sprouted Chia Seed Powder is being recalled after being linked to 12 cases of salmonellosis.

The company, Navitas Naturals, the Superfood Company, imports chia seed from Mexico and then sprouts the seed, dries and then grinds into a powder.   So it appears that this sprouting process could be an amplification step for Salmonella.  Salmonella, coming in on the seed, could potentially grow during the sprouting process (depending on the conditions used for sprouting).  Once present in higher numbers, this bacteria would survive in the dry powder form for long periods of time (similar to how it survived in other low moisture products such as peanut butter).   Salmonella has been an issue in other sprouted seed product , as evidenced by a number of outbreaks and recalls, because of these same reason of being present on the raw seed and being amplified/grown in the sprouting process.

Chia seed has gained in popularity for containing high levels per serving of protein, Omega 3 fatty acids and high dietary fiber.  From a functionality standpoint, it forms a gel that can be used as a thickening agent.  It imparts no real flavor, so you can add it to foods without having to worry about accounting for new flavors.  According to the company website, the nutritional benefits are increased in the sprouting process.  But so is its risk of Salmonella.

FDA Recall Notice
Navitas Naturals Issues Voluntary Recall for Organic Sprouted Chia Seed Powder Products
Consumer:  Consumer Care Team  1-888-886-3879
 Media:   Media Communications Team  1-888-645-4282

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - May 28, 2014 - Navitas Naturals, the Superfood Company is voluntarily recalling products which contain Organic Sprouted Chia Powder due to possible health risks related to Salmonella contamination. “We have chosen to voluntarily recall products containing Organic Sprouted Chia Powder with the goal of utmost safety for our consumers” stated Zach Adelman, Navitas Naturals CEO.