North Carolina firm recalls Serrano peppers

A 2008 Salmonella Saintpaul outbreak initially thought to be solely tomatoes was eventually linked to  a couple of types of peppers. According to a 2011 paper published by the investigation team  raw tomato-containing dishes (like salsa) were linked to three clusters of illnesses but jalapeño peppers at a shipper in Texas and agricultural water and Serrano peppers on a Mexican farm were all found to contain the outbreak strain.

Peppers hadn’t been implicated as a vehicle for illness in an outbreak until then. Since then buyers (like retailers and food service firms) have increased focus on all fresh produce – and have increased product testing. So have state health officials.220px-Serranochilis

According to a press release posted at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s website,

A random sample was taken by the Michigan Department of Agriculture on October 13, 2014 from a warehouse in Lansing, Michigan. Bailey Farms, Inc. received notice that the sample tested positive for Salmonella on October 20, 2014.

Bailey Farms, Inc. of Oxford, NC is voluntarily recalling 6,215 pounds of Fresh Serrano Chile Peppers, because it has the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella.
 
The Fresh Serrano Chile Peppers was distributed to Meijer, Inc. and customers may have purchased this product from October 14th to October 19th at Meijer stores in Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio.
 
In addition this product was distributed to Publix Super Markets Inc., Merchants Distributors, Inc., Walmart, Food Lion, Flavor 1st Growers and Packers, US Foods, Military Produce Group, LLC.,C&S Wholesalers, John Vena, Inc. and Harris Teeter. Consumers who suspect they may have purchased Fresh Serrano Chile Peppers from the above listed companies between the dates of October 2, 2014 to October 21, 2014 should check with the above listed companies to verify if the product was subject to recall.
 
This recall is the result of the possibility that the remainder of these lots could be contaminated with this bacteria. We are working with the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to investigate the root cause of the potential contamination.
No illnesses have been reported/linked to this recall.

Chef at New Jersey restaurant who spit into patron’s food fired

A chef at Kennedy’s Pub who allegedly spit into a meal that a man sent back for additional cooking was fired immediately after the incident occurred, according to a report.

goodfellasMount Olive police responded to the Route 46 restaurant on Sunday evening after an employee contacted authorities to report that 32-year-old John Stagg spat onto a patron’s dinner the prior night.

He was charged with tampering with a food or drug product, as well as disorderly conduct, and released with a court date. The customer, a 51-year-old Lake Hopactong man, was contacted by police and notified of what happened to his food, police said.

Stagg was terminated after authorities’ investigation confirmed he’d spat in the meal, according to the Daily Record. 

Wash hands, sick (and non-sick?) workers stay home: 278 sickened in Norovirus outbreak at Shanghai boarding school, 2012

Researchers conclude in BMC Public Health that this Norovirus outbreak could be limited by good hygiene, daily disinfection and “excluding asymptomatic food handlers from food preparation.”

NorochickI’m not sure how that would work, but based on fecal swabs, nine were Norovirus-positive in asymptomatic food preparers.

Here’s the abstract:

More than 200 students and teachers at a boarding school in Shanghai developed acute gastroenteritis in December, 2012. The transmission mode remained largely unknown.
An immediate epidemiological investigation was conducted to identify it.

Methods: Using a retrospective cohort design, we investigated demographic characteristics, school environment, and previous contacts with people who had diarrhea and/or vomiting, drinking water conditions, recalls of food consumption in the school cafeteria, hand-washing habits and eating habits. Rectal swabs of the new cases and food handlers as well as water and food samples were collected to test potential bacteria and viruses. Norovirus was detected by real-time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR).

Results: A total of 278 cases developed gastrointestinal symptoms in this outbreak, and the overall attack rate was 13.9%. The main symptoms included vomiting (50.0%), abdominal cramps (40.3%), nausea (27.0%), diarrhea (6.8%) and fever (6.8%).
Twenty rectal swab samples were detected as Norovirus-positive, including 11 from student cases and 9 from asymptomatic food handlers (non-cases). Among environmental surface samples from the kitchen, 8 samples were also detected as Norovirus-positive.
The genotypes of viral strains were the same (GII) in patients, asymptomatic food handlers and environmental surfaces. Other samples, including rectal swabs, water samples and food samples were negative for any bacteria and other tested viruses.
Asymptomatic food handlers may have contaminated the cooked food during the food preparation.

Conclusion: The study detected that the outbreak was caused by Norovirus and should be controlled by thorough disinfection and excluding asymptomatic food handlers from food preparation. Early identification of the predominant mode of transmission in this outbreak was necessary to prevent new cases.
Furthermore, good hygiene practices such as regular hand washing and efficient daily disinfection should be promoted to prevent such infection and outbreaks.

Author: Caoyi XueYifei FuWeiping ZhuYi FeiLinying ZhuHong ZhangLifeng PanHongmei XuYong WangWenqin WangQiao Sun

Credits/Source: BMC Public Health 2014, 14:1092

More demand for restaurant inspection info

From San Jose to South Australia, locals are adopting restaurant inspection disclosure or grading programs to inform diners of recent ratings.

scores_doors_featureBeginning in Jan. 2016, San Jose restaurants will adopt the Toronto-like green-yellow-red display system.

In the state of South Australia (that’s where Adelaide is) 10 local Councils have signed up to a voluntary Scores on Doors Pilot Program that will test a new Food Safety Rating scheme for cafes, restaurants and pubs.

Director of Food Safety and Nutrition at SA Health, Fay Jenkins said food safety rating schemes were used all over the world to help consumers make informed choices about where they decided to buy their food.

“Customers have a right to know that the food they buy has been stored in a clean, safe environment and prepared by people with the appropriate food handling skills,” Dr Jenkins said.

“South Australian businesses can start displaying a star rating, calculated using the results of their routine food safety inspection undertaken by local Councils throughout the pilot program,” she said.

“Encouraging businesses to display their star rating aims to improve standards in the food service industry and will also help to improve public health by reducing the risk of food poisoning.”

 

Filion, K. and Powell, D.A. 2009.

The use of restaurant inspection disclosure systems as a means of communicating food safety information.

Journal of Foodservice 20: 287-297.

Abstract

The World Health Organization estimates that up to 30% of individuals in developed countries become ill from food or water each year. Up to 70% of these illnesses are estimated to be linked to food prepared at foodservice establishments. Consumer confidence in the safety of food prepared in restaurants is fragile, varying significantly from year to year, with many consumers attributing foodborne illness to foodservice. One of the key drivers of restaurant choice is consumer perception of the hygiene of a restaurant. Restaurant hygiene information is something consumers desire, and when available, may use to make dining decisions.

 

Filion, K. and Powell, D.A. 2011. Designing a national restaurant inspection disclosure system for New Zealand. Journal of Food Protection 74(11): 1869-1874
.

The World Health Organization estimates that up to 30% of individuals in developed countries become ill from contaminated food or water each year, and up to 70% of these illnesses are estimated to be linked to food service facilities. The aim of restaurant inspections is to reduce foodborne outbreaks larry.the_.cable_.guy_.health.inspector-213x300and enhance consumer confidence in food service. Inspection disclosure systems have been developed as tools for consumers and incentives for food service operators. Disclosure systems are common in developed countries but are inconsistently used, possibly because previous research has not determined the best format for disclosing inspection results. This study was conducted to develop a consistent, compelling, and trusted inspection disclosure system for New Zealand. Existing international and national disclosure systems were evaluated. Two cards, a letter grade (A, B, C, or F) and a gauge (speedometer style), were designed to represent a restaurant’s inspection result and were provided to 371 premises in six districts for 3 months. Operators (n = 269) and consumers (n = 991) were interviewed to determine which card design best communicated inspection results. Less than half of the consumers noticed cards before entering the premises; these data indicated that the letter attracted more initial attention (78%) than the gauge (45%). Fifty-eight percent (38) of the operators with the gauge preferred the letter; and 79% (47) of the operators with letter preferred the letter. Eighty-eight percent (133) of the consumers in gauge districts preferred the letter, and 72% (161) of those in letter districts preferring the letter. Based on these data, the letter method was recommended for a national disclosure system for New Zealand.

US pro football player barfs on field before play

I loved playing linebacker in high-school football.

After all those years of kids shooting pucks at my head covered only with a lousy plastic face mass as a goalie in hockey, it was somehow, equitable.

Lawrence Timmons.vomitI never barfed during a football game (but did before hockey games).

I was watching the Pittsburg Steelers-Houston Texans football game Tuesday morning (Monday night football across the pond) in the background as Steelers linebacker Lawrence Timmons starting barfing before a play in the second quarter.

Down 13-0, Timmons lined up in his usual spot at inside linebacker when he began to vomit before the snap.

As Timmons jogged off the field he continued to vomit, grossing out the Monday night audience.

Some fans even posted a Vine of Timmons getting sick, just in case you missed the chance to be grossed out.

As for Steeler fans, things got better as they erased a 13-0 deficit and won 30-23.

Salmonella in sprouts sparks Organic Traditions brand sprouted flax seed powder recalled due to Salmonella

Sprouts, especially the organic kind, you never fail – fail to initiate recalls.

organic.sprouts.recall.cdnAdvantage Health Matters is recalling Organic Traditions brand Sprouted Flax Seed Powder from the marketplace due to possible Salmonella contamination. Consumers should not consume the recalled products described below.

Recalled products

Brand Name Common Name Size Code(s) on Product UPC
Organic Traditions Sprouted Flax Seed Powder 227 g BIO13SGF291 8 54260 00626 1
Organic Traditions Sprouted Flax Seed Powder 454 g BIO13SGF291 8 54260 00553 0

This recall was triggered by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) test results. The CFIA is conducting a food safety investigation, which may lead to the recall of other products. If other high-risk products are recalled, the CFIA will notify the public through updated Food Recall Warnings.

The CFIA is verifying that industry is removing recalled product from the marketplace.

There have been no reported illnesses associated with the consumption of these products (not yet).

We document at least 55 sprout-associated outbreaks occurring worldwide affecting a total of 15,233 people since 1988. A comprehensive table of sprout-related outbreaks can be found at http://barfblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/Sprout-associated-outbreaks-8-1-14.xlsx.

(This is not satire) 363 sickened in multistate outbreak of human Salmonella infections linked to live poultry in backyard flocks (final update)

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports:

  • This outbreak appears to be over. However, live poultry, including those kept in backyard flocks, remain an important cause of human Salmonella infections in the United States. More information about Salmonella from live poultry and the steps people can take to reduce their risk of infection is available.
  • OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA total of 363 persons infected with the outbreak strains of Salmonella Infantis, Salmonella Newport, or Salmonella Hadar were reported from 43 states and Puerto Rico.

o   33% of ill persons were hospitalized, and no deaths were reported.

  • Epidemiologic, laboratory, and traceback findings linked this outbreak of human Salmonella infections to contact with chicks, ducklings, and other live poultry from Mt. Healthy Hatcheries in Ohio.

o   73% of ill people reported contact with live poultry in the week before their illness began.

  • Findings of multiple traceback investigations of live baby poultry from homes of ill persons identified Mt. Healthy Hatcheries in Ohio as the source of chicks and ducklings.

o   This is the same mail-order hatchery that has been associated with multiple outbreaks of Salmonella infections linked to live poultry in past years, including in 2012 and 2013.

  • CDC’s National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System (NARMS) laboratory conducted antibiotic resistance testing on Salmonella isolates collected from 11 ill persons infected with the outbreak strains of Salmonella Infantis or Newport. Of the 11 isolates tested:

o   Two (18%) were resistant to tetracycline.

o   Nine (82%) were susceptible to all antibiotics on the NARMS panel.

  • Mail-order hatcheries, agricultural feed stores, and others that sell or display chicks, ducklings, and other live poultry should provide health-related information to owners and potential purchasers of these birds prior to selling them. This should include information about the risk of acquiring a Salmonella infection from contact with live poultry.

chicken.south.parko   Read the advice to mail-order hatcheries and feed stores and others that sell or display live poultry.

  • Consumers who own live poultry should take steps to protect themselves:

o   Always wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water right after touching live poultry or anything in the area where these birds live and roam.

o   Do not let live poultry inside the house.

o   Learn about additional recommendations to protect yourself and your family from Salmonella infections. These recommendations are important and apply to all live poultry, regardless of the age of the birds or where they were purchased.

(This is also satire) Terrorists threaten to attack UK by washing uncooked chicken

The terror threat level to the UK has been raised to the highest level since the Iraq war after suspicions grew that terrorists might have been reading all the recent articles about the deadly peril of washing uncooked chicken.

veryRawChickenIt is now known that washing raw chicken releases tiny water droplets filled with extreme poison into your kitchen, killing you and all your family instantly. Until this fact was established by government scientists, there was no explanation for the mysterious spate of deaths affecting everyone in the country who cooked chicken.

“Raw chicken washing-related deaths were running at approximately five million per year, in London alone,” explained chief government medical officer Brian Panic. “We’d always wondered why this might be, but no-one had ever put two and two together, despite the obvious presence of freshly washed chicken fillets near all the bodies.”

“The raw material isn’t a problem in itself, if safely handled until cooked right through,” (piping hot) he explained. “But the combination of uncooked poultry and washing has the potential to destroy civilization, and I’m not exaggerating.”

“Now this has become widely known, if would be simple for a terrorist organization, perhaps using chefs, to wash chicken in the major metropolitan centers, with potentially devastating effects.”

“This could be the most severe threat since terrorists learned to secretly not turn off their Kindles during take-off and landing.”

After a meeting of COBRA, the government’s emergency response and cookery committee, the military are guarding all airports close to branches of Tesco and Sainsbury’s and are monitoring suspects’ water usage for potential chicken-related spikes.

There was an unfortunate incident in Dunstable this morning when an armed response team shot dead a suspected sous-chef who turned out to be merely rinsing a nice piece of sea bass, but a government spokesman pointed out that this is the price of freedom.

Police are asking anyone with the smallest Campylobacter-contaminated nugget of information should come forward immediately for rapid grilling.

Thanks to my Scottish food safety friend for sending along this bit.

Hundreds of U.S. bioterror lab mishaps cloaked in secrecy

Allison Young of USA Today reports that more than 1,100 laboratory incidents involving bacteria, viruses and toxins that pose significant or bioterror risks to people and agriculture were reported to federal regulators during 2008 through 2012, government reports obtained by USA TODAY show.

oops.britneyMore than half these incidents were serious enough that lab workers received medical evaluations or treatment, according to the reports. In five incidents, investigations confirmed that laboratory workers had been infected or sickened; all recovered.

In two other incidents, animals were inadvertently infected with contagious diseases that would have posed significant threats to livestock industries if they had spread. One case involved the infection of two animals with hog cholera, a dangerous virus eradicated from the USA in 1978. In another incident, a cow in a disease-free herd next to a research facility studying the bacteria that cause brucellosis, became infected due to practices that violated federal regulations, resulting in regulators suspending the research and ordering a $425,000 fine, records show.

But the names of the labs that had mishaps or made mistakes, as well as most information about all of the incidents, must be kept secret because of federal bioterrorism laws, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which regulates the labs and co-authored the annual lab incident reports with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“More than 200 incidents of loss or release of bioweapons agents from U.S. laboratories are reported each year. This works out to more than four per week,” said Richard Ebright, a biosafety expert at Rutgers university in New Jersey, who testified before Congress last month at a hearing about CDC’s lab mistakes.

The only thing unusual about the CDC’s recent anthrax and bird flu lab incidents, Ebright said, is that the public found out about them. “The 2014 CDC anthrax event became known to the public only because the number of persons requiring medical evaluation was too high to conceal,” he said.

CDC officials were unavailable for interviews and officials with the select agent program declined to provide additional information. The USDA said in a statement Friday that “all of the information is protected under the Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act of 2002.”

Such secrecy is a barrier to improving lab safety, said Gigi Kwik Gronvall of the UPMC Center for Health Security in Baltimore, an independent think tank that studies policy issues relating to biosecurity issues, epidemics and disasters.

doublesecretprobation“We need to move to something more like what they do in aviation, where you have no-fault reporting but the events are described so you get a better sense of what actually happened and how the system can be fixed,” said Gronvall, an immunologist by training and an associate professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

Gronvall notes that even with redundant systems in high-security labs, there have been lab incidents resulting in the spread of disease to people and animals outside the labs.

“People understand that mistakes will happen,” Gronvall said. “But you want it to be captured, you want it to be learned from, you want there to be a record of how it was dealt with. That’s something I think should happen with biosafety.”