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.

Pew Releases Report on Making Meat and Poultry Safer

Pew Charitable Trusts, a non-profit organization dedicated to encourage responsive government and support scientific research on a wide range of issues including food safety, released a report on making meat and poultry safer.  A few of their recommendations:
  • Government agencies should fund research into how to best manage herds or flocks to maintain animal health and keep harmful bacteria out, including the use of clean feed, vaccines, and prebiotics and probiotics.
  • Regulatory agencies should provide incentives for the implementation of pre-harvest food safety interventions
  • Industry should consider individual pre-harvest interventions within the larger context of managing the health of the herd or flock and implement adequate controls to protect animal health and keep pathogens out,
  • All stakeholders should develop information technology infrastructure and capacity to encourage sharing of efficacy and safety data among industry, academia, governmental researchers, and regulatory agencies
Good for them.  Now just need some funding to make it more of this happen.

The full report can be found here.  Good reference information on pre-harvest interventions.

Pew Charitable Trusts - Press Release
Pew: Safer Meat Requires Reducing Risks Where Food Animals Are Raised
Report highlights effective measures to decrease contamination on farms and feedlots
July 17, 2017
Safe Food Project

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

NY Establishment Recalls 7.2 Million Pounds of Hot Dog Product After Complaints of Bone Material

  A NY establishment is recalling approximately 7.2 million pounds of hot dog products after complaints of bone material were received.  This covers about 3.5 months of production.  According to the USDA recall notice, "The problem was discovered through FSIS’ Consumer Compliant Monitoring System (CCMS) on July 10, 2017. Complaints stated that extraneous material, specifically pieces of bone, were found within the product.    There has been one reported minor oral injury associated with consumption of this product. FSIS has received no additional reports of injury or illness from consumption of these products."

The brand of product, Sabrett, is sold in the locally in the NY area to deli's and foodservice operations, but in large part to street vending carts.

USDA Recall Notice
Marathon Enterprises Inc. Recalls Hot Dog Products Due to Possible Extranous Material Contamination
Class I Recall 082-2017
Health Risk: High
Jul 15, 2017

Thursday, July 6, 2017

CDC Report - Two Outbreaks of Trichinosis Linked to Consumption of Walrus Meat

If you ever have the opportunity to eat walrus meat, make sure it is cooked well.  There were two recent outbreaks of trichinosis or trichinellosis (five cases each) in Alaska that were associated with consumption of walrus meat.  The disease is caused by the parasite trichinella and is acquired when the larvae of the worm in ingested when consuming contaminated meat of animals including bear, cougar, wild boar and walruses.  Domestic pigs were once a source, but not really any more since controls were put in place by the industry to improve farming conditions.

Initial infection leads to nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, fatigue, fever, and abdominal discomfort. This is followed within a few weeks by headaches, fevers, chills, cough, swelling of the face and eyes, aching joints and muscle pains, as the larvae get into the blood stream and start to encyst into the muscles.. "If the infection is heavy, patients may experience difficulty coordinating movements, and have heart and breathing problems. In severe cases, death can occur."

Cooking wild meat to an internal temperature of 160ºF will take care of the issue.  Canning wild meat is another alternative to consider.

Two Outbreaks of Trichinellosis Linked to Consumption of Walrus Meat — Alaska, 2016–2017

CDC Report - 2016-2017 E.coli non-O157 Outbreak in Canada Associated with Flour

CDC issued a field note on the 2016-2017 E. coli non-O157 outbreak in Canada associated with flour.  In all, 29 people were infected in Canada and one in the US.   Robin Hood flour was the identified brand.  According to the report, "Eleven of these sixteen patients reported they ate or probably ate raw dough during their exposure period."  "Eight patients were hospitalized, and one developed hemolytic uremic syndrome. Clinical isolates were typed as E. coli O121:H19."

Notes from the Field: An Outbreak of Shiga Toxin–Producing Escherichia coli O121 Infections Associated with Flour — Canada, 2016–2017
Weekly / July 7, 2017

Energy Bars Recalled After Complaints of Nut Allergic Reactions

Clif Bar is recalling certain varieties of its energy bar products after receiving 'a small number' of consumer complaints of peanut or tree nut allergic reactions, although these were not confirmed.

This is the type of issue where good allergen verification records are needed.  Are there other products run in the facility with peanuts and tree nuts, and if so, were good sanitation and other allergen procedures followed.   What about supplier control?  Do any of the suppliers handle peanut and tree nuts that could have accidentally made their way into a non-nut ingredient.

FDA Recall Notice
Voluntary Recall of CLIF BUILDER'S Bar Chocolate Mint Flavor, CLIF Kid Zbar Protein Chocolate Mint and CLIF Kid Zbar Protein Chocolate Chip Flavors
For Immediate Release
July 5, 2017

Results of Sampling Retail Foods for Listeria

USDA led a multiyear study to look at Listeria in foods at retail.
  • Six broad groups were tested - seafood, produce, dairy, meat, eggs, and combination foods) 
  • Samples were collected weekly at large national chain supermarkets and independent grocery stores between December 2010 and March 2013.
  • 27,389 total samples were taken with 
  • 116 samples tested positive by the BAX PCR system for L. monocytogenes, and the pathogen was isolated and confirmed for 102 samples (0.3%)
  • 571 samples that tested positive for Listeria-like organisms

A few takeaways
  • Screening samples used a 25 gram sample. If a larger sample size was used, would the percent positive be higher?
  • Sampling ended over 4 years ago.  If sampling and testing were conduced today, would we expect lower numbers?
  • Cut raw vegetables were the highest at 1%., but the scariest is the pre-made salads - seafood salad and deli-type salads (and pre-made sandwiches) since those would be consumed without any preparation and the numbers/gram were generally lower.
  • While the percentage of cheese samples that were positive are low, there where some high numbers on those that tested positive.
Journal of Food Protection
Survey for Listeria monocytogenes in and on Ready-to-Eat Foods from Retail Establishments in the United States (2010 through 2013): Assessing Potential Changes of Pathogen Prevalence and Levels in a Decade
John B. Luchansky,1 Yuhuan Chen,2* Anna C. S. Porto-Fett,1 Régis Pouillot,2 Bradley A. Shoyer,1 Rachel Johnson-DeRycke,3 Denise R. Eblen,3 Karin Hoelzer,2 William K. Shaw Jr.,3 Jane M. van Doren,2 Michelle Catlin,3 Jeehyun Lee,4§ Rohan Tikekar,4§ Daniel Gallagher,5 James A. Lindsay,1 The Listeria Market Basket Survey Multi-Institutional Team, and Sherri Dennis2

Penn State Extension educators develop plan to educate plain sect on food safety

Penn State News
Penn State Extension educators develop plan to educate plain sect on food safety
June 13, 2017

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Technology has changed the way we communicate and learn. Computers, video conferencing and online courses are just a few of the tools educators commonly use to impart knowledge.

But what if you normally use technology to teach but can't?

That was the challenge Penn State Extension food-safety educators like Jeff Stoltzfus, who is based in Lancaster County, faced earlier this year when asked to use today's technology to educate Amish and Mennonite farmer — some of whom reject modern ways — about new food-safety regulations.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Chicken Salad Recalled for Being Tuna Salad - Allergen Mislabeling

Whole Foods is recalling chicken salad product that contains...tuna salad.  While this mislabeling issue may seem small and easy to make, it is reason for a Class I recall due to undeclared allergens, in this case, fish in the product but not on the label.  The issue was discovered at store level as store employees were unpacking the product.

According to the report, this company had a similar issue in the past.  In January of 2017, they shipped egg salad labeled as chicken salad.  Again, this is a allergen mislabeling issue.  This would be where one would want to have an Allergen Preventive Control or a Critical Control Point to ensure the labels match the product produced.

It seems that Jessica Simpson made the same mistake...thinking Chicken of the Sea was chicken.  Don't be like Jessica Simpson, control your labels!

USDA Recall Notice
Willow Tree Poultry Farm Recalls Chicken Salad Products Due To Misbranding And Undeclared Allergens
Class I Recall 080-2017
Health Risk: High
Jul 1, 2017