Friday, January 30, 2015

Ohio Firm Recalls Salami Due to Inadequate Cooling.

Updated 2/4/15

An Ohio firm is recalling salami products after it was determined that the cooling step in the process appears to have had a deviation in that the product was not cooled enough. This facility operated under state jurisdiction but participated in the Cooperative Interstate Shipment (CIS) program. Under CIS, state-inspected plants can operate like a federally-inspected facility by meeting specific conditions, and then ship their product in interstate commerce and internationally.

The hazard of concern for meat cooling is Clostridium perfringens.    FSIS has requirements that must be met for cooling (also called stabilization) which are defined in Appendix B.

Clostridium perfringens is a sporeforming pathogen that can exist in soil, water, food, meat, spices and vegetables.  The spores are heat resistant and can survive cooking temperatures such as process for cooking processed meat products (Dvalue at 212F ranges from 0.7 min to 38.4 min). If present in the raw materials, the numbers are very low, if present at all.  It only becomes a risk if the cooked product is temperature abused where the number of organisms reach a high number.  It divides very fast in the 90F to 115F range (can be as fast as every 10 minutes or less).

The symptoms of the illness occur within 6 to 24 hours after eating the contaminated food and these symptoms include diarrhea and acute abdominal pain.  The illness occurs when the food contains large numbers of bacteria, that once consumed, sporulate in the intestines and thus releasing the toxin.  Toxin can also be preformed in the food.

It is interesting to note that this is a cured meat, and being a cured meat, Clostridium pathogens are controlled by nitrite.

Dr. Bruce Tompkin provided a comment on this topic, which I wanted to add here:
This recall reminds me of the long, unfinished debate about whether C. perfringens is a significant hazard and for that reason chilling should be a CCP in the HACCP plan for cooked cured meat products.

This recall also is unfortunate because it is not likely to have any public health benefit because cured meats have not been associated with C. perfringens illness with one notable exception.

That exception is corned beef that has been cooked in water in a home or food service establishment and subsequently held at time-temperatures that permit germination and outgrowth. Long cooking in water likely reduces the salt and nitrite levels to non-inhibitory levels.

Otherwise, “there is no history of C. perfringens diarrhea associated with cured meat products since the bacillus is relatively sensitive to sodium chloride and nitrite” (ICMSF Book 5. 1996. page 116). Similar statements can be found elsewhere in the literature.

We investigated chilling deviations and conducted other research to better understand why the risk of C. perfringens illness from commercially processed RTE meat and poultry products is very low (Kalinowski et al. 2003. JFP 66:1227-1232). That research investigated both cured and non-cured products.

The publications of Jackson et al in 2011 (JFP 74:410-416 and 417-424) are among the more recent studies that lead to the conclusion that C. perfringens should not be considered a significant hazard in “conventionally cured” meats.

The risk assessment by Crouch et al in 2009 (JFP 72:1376-1384) led to the conclusions that ”Improper retail and consumer refrigeration accounted for the majority of the predicted C. perfringens illnesses, while stabilization accounted for less than 1% of illnesses. Therefore, efforts to reduce illnesses in RTE/PC meat and poultry products should focus on retail and consumer storage and preparation methods.” This agrees with experience in the UK and Australia as mentioned in Kalinowski et al. 2003.

Yes, cooked cured products are now chilled faster and more orderly but I do not recall any instance of C. perfringens illness occurring from an improperly chilled cured RTE product between 1964 when I started in the industry, 1988 when the initial chilling guidelines were implemented and 1999 when FSIS finalized its stricter chilling/stabilization regulations.

Bruce Tompkin

 FSIS Recall Notice
Ohio Firm Recalls Salami Products Due To Possible Temperature Abuse
Class I Recall 024-2015
Health Risk: High Jan 30, 2015
Congressional and Public Affairs Whitney Joy (202) 720-9113
WASHINGTON, Jan. 30, 2015 – Great Lakes Smoked Meats, a Lorain, Ohio establishment, is recalling approximately 2,863 pounds of smoked salami product, which may have experienced temperature abuse and may contain Clostridium perfringens, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced today.

Friday, January 23, 2015

USDA Proposes Salmonella and Campylobacter Performance Standards for Poultry Parts and Ground Poultry

 USDA has proposed setting performance standards for poultry processors on raw ground poultry as well as raw poultry parts (breasts, legs, breasts and wings). A performance standard for pathogens is a level of positive samples a facility can have. USDA then tests product at the facility to see whether they are in compliance. This puts pressure on the facility to put measures in place to reduce the prevalence of pathogens thus having a positive impact on safety.

USDA performance standards are in place for whole poultry, but as with the Foster Farms outbreak, numbers can increase during further processing such as cutting into parts or grinding. And these products, ground and parts, represent a big proportion of the product people buy.

These performance standards will allow some level of Salmonella and Campylobacter to still be present, but in lowering the level there, the USDA hopes to reduce the number of illnesses that occur.  That being said, it still important the people handle chicken in a way to prevent cross contamination and cook it to eliminate pathogens that may be present.

USDA News Release
Release No. 0013.15
Contact: Office of Communications (202)720-4623
USDA Proposes New Measures to Reduce Salmonella and Campylobacter in Poultry Products
New Standards Could Help Prevent an Estimated 50,000 Illnesses Annually

WASHINGTON, Jan. 21, 2015 -- The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) today proposed new federal standards to reduce Salmonella and Campylobacter in ground chicken and turkey products as well as raw chicken breasts, legs and wings. Development of these new standards is a major step in FSIS' Salmonella Action Plan, launched in December 2013 to reduce Salmonella illnesses from meat and poultry products.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Food Warehouses - Get Ready for Some Scrutiny

Senator Chuck Schumar (D-NY) is pushing for increase regulatory attention to food warehouses due to reported unsanitary conditions in food warehouses, including rat nests, litter and other forms of untidiness.  Case in point was a warehouse in Pennsylvania, operated by a NY firm (FDA Warning Letter below), where they found rat nests, dead rats, rodent feces, and a number of other sanitary issues.

External warehouses, along with transporters (to be tackled by the transportation component of FSMA) are all part of the food chain, but have not received as much attention as the processing component - processing facilities and connected/internal warehouses.  For the food system to be safe, all components of that chain must utilize food safety practices.  Unfortunately, some of these ancillary services have not had the level of attention that they should have had.   One exception being where the warehouse had to meet 2nd party or 3rd party inspection requirements.

Think Progress
Senator Pressures FDA To Crack Down On ‘Disgusting’ Warehouses That Supply Our Food

by Sam P.K. Collins Posted on January 12, 2015 at 11:57 am Up

Last year, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) cited squalid conditions in 90 warehouses, including a Chinese food distributor that the agency found to have rodent nests, carcasses, and feces littering in its warehouse during an inspection in December.

That’s why Sen. Chuck Schumer wants the regulatory agency to up the ante and crack down on food manufacturers that cannot maintain sanitary spaces for food production. He’s calling for more frequent inspections, higher fines, and the creation of an easily searchable food database for distributors and consumers.

Drink-up - EFSA Determines Up to 400mg/day Safe for Healthy Adult

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) released its determination that 400 mg/day of caffeine is safe for the healthy adult.

According to the Caffeine, This is equivalent to about:
5.2  -  Shots of espresso
Two - 5 Hour Energy Shots
1  -  Starbucks Venti brewed coffee
2.5 -  16 fl.oz. Monster Energy Drinks
5 -  8 fl.oz. Red Bulls
11.7  - 12 fl.oz. Cokes

And according to that same website, my morning coffee from the Creamery, 20oz size is probably between 200 and 400mg.  Of the beverages, coffee and energy drinks have the highest level of caffeine (8oz of Red Bull would be slightly less than 8 oz of regular coffee).

According to a Penn State study, 85% of American consumer one caffeinated beverage per day with an average intact of 165 mg.   The group that had the highest intact of caffeine were in the 50-64 year drinkers.

IFT Weekly
 EFSA determines 400 mg/day of caffeine is safe

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has published its long-awaited caffeine risk assessment. Previous studies on the safety of caffeine have been published by the Scientific Committee on Food (SCF) in 1983, 1999, and 2003. In 2013, EFSA was asked to evaluate potential adverse health effects that may arise following consumption either alone or in combination with alcohol and/or other substances such as energy drinks.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Drug-laced Bread Sickens 40 in LA

A bread made in celebration of Three Kings Day was contaminated with synthetic cannabinoid, or synthetic pot.  It affected at least 40 people with the symptoms that included heart palpitations, dizziness, numbness and hallucinations. 

This specific chemical, JWH-122, was developed for research and would be illegal to have, but other forms of synthetic pot, known as Spice or K2, can be purchased legally.

Police continue to investigate how the chemical got into the food, most likely a case of intentional contamination.

Orange County Register
Testing: Three Kings Day bread laced with 'substantial' amount of synthetic pot
Jan. 13, 2015    Updated Jan. 14, 2015 9:56 p.m.

A holiday sweet bread that caused dozens in Orange County to become ill might have been deliberately laced with a synthetic drug that mimics the active ingredient in marijuana, the president of a Santa Ana-based lab said Tuesday.

Neil Spingarn, a pharmacologist who heads up S&N Laboratories, tested a sample of the Three Kings Day bread and found it contaminated with “a substantial” amount of a synthetic cannabinoid – an artificial THC with intensified effects. THC is the main chemical ingredient in marijuana.

“The levels in the cake are not small.” Spingarn said. “What is most striking is that this was not inadvertent.”

Shigella Outbreak in American Samoa, 2014 - CDC MMWR

Shigella is one of the reportable illnesses according to the US Food Code.  In this CDC MMWR Report, it can be seen why when you consider so many children became infected in such a short period of time.

In this outbreak, some 280 cases of severe diarrhea (and in some cases bloody diarrhea), primarily among young children, were seen on this US Territorial Island.  Investigators felt that most of the cases were due to person-to-person contact [although it can be transferred via ready-to-eat foods when the foods are handled by an infected handler.]
Notes from the Field: Outbreak of Diarrheal Illness Caused by Shigella flexneri — American Samoa, May–June 2014
January 16, 2015 / 64(01);30-30
Julia E. Painter, PhD1,2, Allison Taylor Walker, PhD1,2, Jarratt Pytell2, Motusa Tuileama Nua3, Siitia Soliai-Lemusu3, Eric Mintz, MD2, Ibne Ali, PhD2, Michele Parsons, MS2, Haley Martin2, Michael Beach, PhD2, Anna Bowen, MD2, Jennifer Cope, MD2 (Author affiliations at end of text)
On May 9, 2014, a physician at hospital A in American Samoa noticed an abnormally high number of children presenting to the emergency department with bloody diarrhea. Based on preliminary testing of stool specimens, Entamoeba histolytica infection was suspected as a possible cause. Shigella was also suspected in a subset of samples. On May 22, the American Samoa Department of Health requested assistance from CDC with the outbreak investigation. The goals of the investigation were to establish the presence of an outbreak, characterize its epidemiology and etiology, and recommend control measures. The CDC field team reviewed the emergency department log book for cases of diarrheal illness during April 15–June 13, 2014. During this period, 280 cases of diarrheal illness were recorded, with a peak occurring on May 10. Twice as many cases occurred during this period in 2014 compared with the same period in 2011, the most recent year for which comparable surveillance data were available. Cases were widely distributed across the island. The highest number of cases occurred in children aged 0–9 years. Across age groups, cases were similarly distributed among males and females. These patterns are not consistent with the epidemiology of disease caused by E. histolytica, which tends to cause more cases in males of all ages.

Trichinellosis Surveillance in the United States, 2008 - 2012 - Summary of CDC Report

CDC issued a surveillance report on cases of Trichinellosis.  This is a quick summary.
Trichinellosis is a parasitic disease caused by Trichinella, a nematode. It had been traditionally associated with undercooked pork, but more recently it is more associated with wild game.  [Prior to improvements in pig husbandry in 1940's and 1950's, it was estimated that over 15% of people in the US had been infected by Trichinella.]
From the report:
"Trichinella infection in human hosts can be divided into an intestinal (enteral) phase and a muscular (parenteral) phase, with clinical manifestations ranging from asymptomatic infection to fatal disease, depending on the number of larvae ingested. After ingestion, larvae are released into the intestinal mucosa and subsequently migrate to the blood vessels, from which they spread throughout the body before reaching the skeletal muscles."

 During the initial phase, within the first few days of infection, symptoms can range from asymptomatic to severe gastrointestinal distress.  As the parasite migrates to the muscle and embeds itself, the person can have fever, muscle pain, and swelling.  Death can occur in cases where this is inflammation of the heart, brain, or lung tissue as well as due to respiratory failure from a high level of infection of encysted worms in the diaphragm muscle [it gets so many encysted worms that the muscle can't work...tell me that isn't a miserable way to buy the farm].
During the reporting period, 2008-2012, there were 84 confirmed cases.
  • 22 cases were linked with pork products, including 10 with commercial pork products, 6 with wild boar, and 1 with home-raised swine, and 5 unspecified.
  • 41 cases were linked to bear meat
  • 2 cases with deer meat
  • 2 with ground meat
  • 17 cases unknown
  • From 51 cases that were further investigated, 24 reported eating raw or undercooked meat [for the other cases, as we know, people hate to admit being stupid...who wants to admit eating bear tartare, or drinking the fresh blood of their hunted bear prey...yeah, you know that guy].
So the number of cases has continued to decline thanks to commercial pork practices and better cooking practices by the consumer, but vigilance is still needed, especially with wild game.  Consumers of pork and game must follow proper cooking or freezing methods to destroy the parasite.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Soft Cheese Recalled in WA After Being Linked to 3 Listeria Cases

A Washington state company is recalling soft cheese products after being linked to 3 cases of Listeria monocytogenes infection. One of those cases was a death.

There have been a number of Listeria issues related to soft cheeses, especially in smaller companies who have entered into the cheese market. In this case, the company was started in the year 2000 (translated Website) and appears to have grown over time. With increasing popularity of Farmers' Markets, food entrepreneurs have found a entry channel to sell products, including soft cheeses. However, as with this case, careful attention to risk control must be made.

FDA Recall Notice
Queseria Bendita LLC Recalls Fresh Cheeses and Sour Cream Because of Possible Health Risk

Contact: Consumer:  Sandra Aquilar 509-961-8949

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE — January 16, 2015 — Queseria Bendita LLC of Yakima, Washington is recalling all lots of Panela, Queso Fresco, Requeson, Cotija fresh soft cheese products and Sour Cream to include those with best by dates up to 4/16/2015 because of a 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.

Panela, Queso Fresco, Requeson, Cotija fresh soft cheese products and Sour Cream were distributed to Hispanic grocery stores in Washington and Oregon and the firm also sold products from its on-site store in Yakima, Washington.

Vegetable Smoothie Blends and Listeria - Recall and Controlling Risk

A Smoothie Blend is being recalled after Listeria was detected in the spinach and/or kale ingredients used in the blend. There have been no  illnesses and the organism has not been detected in the finished product.

The risk associated with vegetable smoothies is that some of the vegetable ingredients may be sources of Listeria.  Listeria can contaminate vegetables, such as kale or spinach, at the field level or during storage.  The latter can be more of an issue because vegetable storage areas are cool and often damp, which fits the growth conditions conducive to Listeria.  With longer storage times, in some cases from one packing season to the next (in order for the processors to make product throughout the year), there may be increased opportunity for Listeria contamination.

Many of these vegetables have been traditionally cooked, and so, long term storage had not been a big issue.  But with smoothies, there is no cooling step to eliminate an organism like Listeria.  These vegetables are blended in the raw state and then consumed.  Additionally, once blended, storage of vegetable matrix could serve to enhance the numbers because the matrix would likely support growth, albeit slowly if stored at refrigeration temperatures.

Blenders may also use frozen vegetables.  These vegetables are oaten produced with the intention that they will be cooked (thus they have cooking instructions), but blenders will use them without cooking.

For companies blending smoothies, supplier control is critical.  Other control steps in include having a washing/sanitizing step in place prior to blending as well as a strict refrigeration and a tight shelf-life.  For consumers who blend raw vegetables - use sound vegetables, wash produce well, and then consume immediately upon blending.

Of course Listeria is not the only pathogen that can be associated with produce.  Produce contain bacteria pathogens, such as Salmonella or STEC E.coli, viruses, and parasites.  Generally, however, the risk would be considered very low, especially when farmers follow GAP principles.

This product, pictured here, is sold frozen.  Freezing would prevent growth of Listeria, but once thawed, Listeria would be able to grow.

 FDA Recall Notice
Inventure Foods, Inc. Issues Voluntary Recall Of Its Rader Farms® Fresh Start Smoothie Blend, Sunrise Refresh Fusion, And Daily Power Fusion Due To Possible Health Risk

Consumer:  Inventure Foods Customer Service   866-890-1004
Media:  Matt Jackson   Lambert, Edwards & Associates

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – January 18, 2015 – Inventure Foods, Inc. of Phoenix, Arizona, has issued a precautionary recall of its RADER FARMS® Fresh Start Smoothie Blend, Fresh Start Sunrise Refresh Fusion, and Fresh Start Daily Power Fusion because of a 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.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Listeria Strains in Caramel Apple Outbreak Found in Apple Packing Shed

 FDA announced that the two strains of Listeria responsible for the caramel apple outbreak were found in the apple packing facility. 

Like the Listeria outbreak in cantaloupes,  this brings increased attention to apple control in the fruit packing area.

FDA Notice

Bidart Bros. Works with Federal and State Officials to Determine Source of Listeriosis-Associated Outbreak

(661) 399-0978

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE — January 9, 2015 — Bakersfield, Calif. — Today, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced the results of findings from additional tests performed on samples collected from Bidart Bros. apple processing plant. Test results confirm two strains of Listeria monocytogenes were found at the apple processing facility and are believed to be the same strains associated with the outbreak. Those same strains were also found in Bidart Bros. apples collected from a retailer by the FDA. Today, the CDC confirmed that the majority of the persons made ill reported consuming caramel-coated apples.

“The results are devastating to the Bidart family,” says Leonard Bidart, President Bidart Bros. “As a family-owned grower operating in California since the 1930s, we place safety at the forefront of everything we do. Our hearts go out to all who have been impacted by the apple-related listeriosis outbreak.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Rule Delayed Requiring Labeling of Mechanically Tenderized Meat

A rule requiring the mandatory labeling of mechanically tenderized meat was delayed due to slow government action.

The rule was proposed because of the higher food safety risk associated when meat is tenderized using blades or needles.  The blades or needles can force bacteria deeper into the meat, and so this meat then needs to be cooked a little more in order to destroy those backer and thus ensure safety.  That is, you don't want to serve mechanically tenderized meat rare or medium needs to be cooked to 155F internal versus 145 F as is done for intact meat (straight cuts of steak).    Of course, many people do not know this, and cook those mechanically tenderized steaks like they would intact steaks..  Labeling would indicate to people that these steaks need to be cooked to 155F internal temperature.

Food Safety Magazine
Mandatory Labeling for Mechanically Tenderized Meat Delayed Until At Least 2018
News | January 5, 2015
 By Staff

According to a final rule by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), mechanically tenderized beef products will not require special safety labels for at least another three years. The tenderization process softens the meat with tools and devices that are known to cultivate pathogens that can lead to foodborne illness.

Lack of Allergen Control by Spice Supplier's Supplier Results in Recalls

Updated 1/12/14

A PA firm is recalling a wide range of spices because the Cumin ingredient they used may contain peanuts, an issue that originated with their supplier.

There have been two assoicated recalls by food companies because the supplier of the spice had allergen issues.  In this case, a cumin spice may have been contaminated with peanut.  Because it is peanut, it is a Class I recall.

This is not the first time we have seen spice supplier have allergen issues that resulted in downstream recalls.  There was a similar recall in November.  Smaller companies are often challenged because of limited resources to properly vet their suppliers regarding allergen control.  And even with a thorough audit that reveals a decent program, mistakes cans still occur.  

FDA Recall Notice
Con Yeager Spice Company Issues a Voluntary Recall for Ground Cumin and Seasoning Blends (containing Ground Cumin) Due to Potential Undeclared Peanut Allergens


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE — January 9, 2015 — New Castle, PA and Zelienople, PA — Con Yeager Spice Company has issued a voluntary recall for multiple sized packages under multiple brand names of ground cumin and multiple seasoning blends (containing ground cumin) due to undeclared Peanut allergens in the ground cumin.

People who have an allergy or severe sensitivity to peanuts run the risk of serious or life threatening allergic reaction if they consume these products. To date, there have been no consumer complaints or reports of allergic reactions at this time. Con Yeager Spice Company is asking customers at risk for peanut allergies to discontinue using the product immediately.

Con Yeager Spice Company was notified by the supplier Morris J. Golombeck Inc. that the ground cumin product had tested positive for traces of peanut protein. This spice is used in a variety of Con Yeager Spice Company seasoning blends and sold as a single ingredient product. Product packaging includes clear plastic bag in a box, clear plastic minijar, pint, quart, gallon jug containers and plastic bags. Our product identifiers are the product’s 5 digit item key and 6 digit item lot number beginning with a decimal point located on the labeling.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Mining Tweets for Targeting Restaurant Inspections

A number of cities have begun analyzing Twitter or other web-based public review/grading systems such as Yelp as a way to target restaurant inspections.  Basically, they have computer systems which search through tweets and/or reviews looking for specific indicators, collect the data and spit out restaurant names that meet the criteria warranting inspection.

 In the Chicago initiative, using data from March 23, 2013 and November 10, 2014, they flagged 3,594 tweets as potential food poisoning cases. Of these tweets, they determined 419, roughly 12 percent, as likely cases.   While not clearly stated if it is in the same time frame, they conducted 133 inspections and found that 40% of them had serious violations, or 53 establishments.
I guess I am supposed to think this is cool, but it just seems so backwards.  Using resources to scour through people's comments that they post in a few seconds, it just seems a bit, passive. And knowing that foodborne illness can occur in any length of time, from minutes to days after eating a food, what is the chance that someone is going to know which food made them sick.  Also considering that the occasional belly ache is often attributed to some food they ate, and that rarely does one attribute the illness to food they made at home, will inspectors be chasing after establishments that don't deserve to be scrutinized. Clearly, 60% of those inspected did not have significant issues.

Using those same resources, and having a designated line for complaints, would they have not found those 53 establishments, or even better, using those resources to fix issues in establishments before those issues led to someone becoming ill.  

The financial costs of establishing and maintaining these systems were not provided in the HPR piece attached here, so it is hard to say if they are getting bang for the buck. If the cost is minimal, then it is no big deal, especially if they are using this to augment their current inspection system.   But I am inclined to think that more of a direct approach to ensuring safety...regular on site inspections and requirements for establishments to have trained manager/employees. 

Harvard Political Review
Food Safety in Numbers
By Advik Shreekumar

On March 23, 2013, the civic organization Smart Chicago launched an ambitious program to enhance the city’s food safety efforts: Foodborne Chicago. Using a mix of statistical techniques and computer science, Foodborne searches Twitter for complaints of food poisoning, then follows up with users and generates formal investigations. Chicago is not alone in these efforts; San Francisco, Boston, and New York City are all in the process of implementing similar initiatives to better enforce their health codes.

Foodborne Chicago and its sibling programs are bold attempts to modernize governance, harnessing the massive streams of information on social media sites. However, while these initiatives have the potential to dramatically improve public health, they also grant additional power to the companies holding the data. This, in turn, will challenge traditional notions of privacy and property.

Walnut Pieces Recalled After Retail Sample Tests Positive or Salmonella

A Wisconsin company is recalling walnut pieces after  a sample of the product was found to be positive for Salmonella, discovered during FDA routine retail testing.

 FDA recall notice

The Morning Call
Candy sold in Pa. recalled for possible salmonella contamination
By Morning Call staff
Walnut candies sold in 27 states including Pennsylvania were recalled Monday for possible salmonella contamination. Eillien's Candies Inc. said in a press release issued through the Food and Drug Administration that it is voluntarily recalling Walnut Pieces candy because some of the products may be contaminated with salmonella.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Update - Listeria Contaminated Caramel Apples

The CDC reports as of January 1, 32 people have become ill with 6 deaths related to Listeria contaminated caramel apples.

The FDA investigation traced the apples to Bidert Brothers Packing of CA.  Their Granny Smith and Gala Apples appear to be the likely source.   Companies which received apples from Bidert Bros issued recalls.
  • Happy Apple
  • California Snack Foods
  • Pacific Coast Fruit
  • Merb’s Candies
  • .
    FDA completed sampling of the Bidert facility, but has not yet issued a report of their findings.

    Quat Sanitizer - a Review of Efficacy

     A review article, Quaternary Ammonium Biocides: Efficacy in Application, published in Applied and Environmental Microbiology, looks at the use of quat, or quaternary ammonium, sanitizers and the fact that some organisms may be more tolerant than others.  It states that this is a tolerance issue, not a resistance issue.  So while the use of quat sanitizers are important, more information is needed in field application to understand real efficacy and survival.

     Applied and Environmental Microbiology
    Quaternary Ammonium Biocides: Efficacy in Application

    Charles P. Gerba
    Department of Soil, Water, and Environmental Science, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona, USA


    Bacteria in the Restroom - Pondering Succession and Stability

    Did you ever wonder about the bacteria on the surfaces in the restroom?  Well, you probably figured there were bacteria there (and thus you use your foot to flush the commode), but hopefully you pondered deeper thoughts rather than postulating bacterial succession on the floor as well as the seat in which you sit.

    Well some did ponder such questions, completed a study and published those results (Ecological Succession and Viability of Human-Associated Microbiota on Restroom Surfaces).  They showed that the ecological succession of bacterial populations does occur and that in general, a stable community does occur after 8 hours, and is made up of skin and environmental organisms rather than gut microorganisms.
    "The prevalence of skin-associated, rather than feces-associated taxa, in the late-successional community suggests that organisms are selected for their ability to persist in a dry, aerobic environment, which is a very different environment from the gut. Human-associated microbiota, including Staphylococcus strains, can remain viable on BE surfaces for many hours after their dispersal [cleaning] agents are removed. This suggests that common BE surfaces may be significant fomites for viable human pathogens."

    Recall Summary for the 2014 Holiday Season

    To catch up on the recalls over the holiday 12/23/14 to 1/4/15),  here is a quick summary (minus Carmel Apples)

    1) First, there were ice cream recalls in ice cream products due to Listeria.  They are linked to one supplier, Snoqualmie Gourmet.
    FDA Recall Notice - 1/3/15
    Full Tilt Ice Cream Recalls All Dairy Based Ice Cream Products Except Non-Dairy Frozen Desserts Because of Possible Health Risk

    WA based company recalls ice cream due to Listeria. The product contained an ingredient that was recalled by another company.

    FDA Recall Notice - 1/3/15
    Pink’s Ice Cream Recalls All Ice Cream Flavors Except the Coconut Non-Dairy Frozen Dessert Because of Possible Health Risk
    This is another Washington based company recalling because of an ingredient was recalled.

    FDA Recall Notice
    Great Feeling Foods, LLC Recalls Groove Gluten-Free Ice Cream Cookie Sandwiches Because of Possible Health Risk

    FDA Recall Notice
    Updated Release By Snoqualmie Gourmet Ice Cream, Inc. Voluntarily Recalls Ice Cream, Gelato, Custard And Sorbet Because Of Possible Health Risk

    2) Cheese products were also recalled due to Listeria.
    One set was related to Bleating Heart Cheese.
    FDA Recall Notice - 12/31/14
    Whole Foods Market Voluntarily Recalls Cut, Wrapped and Weighed Bleating Heart-Brand Cheeses in Arizona, California and Hawaii Because of Possible Health Risk
    "Whole Foods Market is recalling cheese sold in Arizona, California and Hawaii that came from its supplier Bleating Heart Cheeses because it has the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes......"

    And Bleating Heart Cheese is expanding their recall.
    Bleating Heart Cheese Expanding Voluntary Recall To Include All Cheese Produced Between February 14, 2014 To September 19, 2014

    And another recall was a raw milk cheddar product recalled in MI.
    Farm Country Cheese House Recalls Raw Milk Cheddar Because Of Possible Contamination With Listeria Monocytogenes

    3) There were two separate recalls of pet treats due to Salmonella.

    FDA Recall Notice - 12/31/14
    Jump Your Bones, Inc. Recalls Roo Bites (Cubes) Pet Treats Because of Possible Salmonella Contamination
    These pet treats are being recalled due to the potential to be contaminated by Salmonella.  No illnesses have been reported.

    FDA Recall Notice - 12/24/14
    Barkworthies® Issues Nationwide Recall of Chicken Vittles Dog Chews
    This recall was initiated after CO Department of Ag found a sample positive for Salmonella.

    4) And there was a recall of nut products due to the potential for Salmonella.

    FDA Recall Notice 12/30/14
    John B. Sanfilippo & Son, Inc. Voluntarily Recalls Fisher Brand 8 oz. Chopped Walnuts and Fisher Brand 8 oz. Pecan Cookie Pieces Because of Possible Health Risk

    5) A recall of Bruschetta due to the potential for glass.
    American Roland Food Corp. Recalls Two Lots of Roland(R) Bruschetta

    6) There were some allergen recalls as well for Hummus, Bread Crumbs, Superfoods Rice, and spice products.