Ben Chapman

About Ben Chapman

Dr. Ben Chapman is an associate professor and food safety extension specialist at North Carolina State University. As a teenager, a Saturday afternoon viewing of the classic cable movie, Outbreak, sparked his interest in pathogens and public health. With the goal of less foodborne illness, his group designs, implements, and evaluates food safety strategies, messages, and media from farm-to-fork. Through reality-based research, Chapman investigates behaviors and creates interventions aimed at amateur and professional food handlers, managers, and organizational decision-makers; the gate keepers of safe food. Ben co-hosts a biweekly podcast called Food Safety Talk and tries to further engage folks online through Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and, maybe not surprisingly, Pinterest. Follow on Twitter @benjaminchapman.

NZ growers provide absolutes and soundbites in campy outbreak

Water is often a concern in fresh produce.

Irrigation water standards associated with FSMA (are the indictors correct? are there geographical differences? Is the measure protective?) are being discussed in food safety meetings all over the place.

In the absence of good science and a whole bunch of variability I figure that folks will eventually just treat water (with something) instead of trying to test their way to safety.Water_Irrigation

Wash water can be trouble too.

I guess we could all move to New Zealand where, according to Newshub, campy has been spread through a municipal water system and local growers, who may or may not have been using the water, say ‘there are no risks because of the food safety systems.’

Growers are desperate to reassure the public it’s safe to eat fruit and vegetables from Hawke’s Bay, despite the region’s contaminated water supply.

“You need to have a fruit cut open… and for contaminated water to touch the cut-open bit of fruit for there to be a problem,” says chief executive Mike Chapman (no relation -ben).
“It’s a long, long, long stretch for anything to be of concern to the public.”

However, many growers in the region are holding off on picking their crops as a precaution.

“Even if [they were], there are no risks because of the food safety systems we have,” says Mr Chapman.

There’s always a risk. Pathogens can internalize. Show me the data.

Dole and Listeria: The Shaggy Defense

Dole’s Springfield plant, source of an awful outbreak of listeriosis linked to over 30 illnesses and four deaths, had resident Listeria monocytogenes problem. With illnesses stretching back to July 2015, linked through whole genome sequencing, the pathogen was hanging out somewhere.

The Packer reports that Dole is disputing a couple of lawsuits that have been filed on behalf of victims.

A suit filed in July for the estate of Ellen DiStefano alleges Dole failed to design and implement a food safety program capable of preventing listeria contamination of its salad mixes.

Listeria was found eight times in the Springfield plant from March 2014 to December 2015, according to a Food and Drug Administration report cited in court documents. The suit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, also claims Dole did not use newer detection technologies such as genome sequencing.

DiStefano became ill Jan. 17 and died Feb. 27. She was 79.

“The product was not defective at the time it left Dole’s custody and control,” attorney R. Leland Evans said July 15 in the court record. “Any later defect was caused by a substantial alteration and change in the condition of the product by other parties over whom Dole had no control.”

Show me the data.

 

Blast from the past: hep A inactivation in scallops

Raw scallops served at Genki Sushi have been fingered in a Hawaiian hep A outbreak. What if Genki had seared the scallops? According to some historic work, seared scallops aren’t probably hep A risk-reduced scallops either.

Inactivation of Hepatitis A virus in heat-treated mussels
Journal of Applied Microbiology
dec.99
L. CROCI, M. CICCOZZI, D. DE MEDICI, S. DI PASQUALE, A. FIORE, A. MELE and L. TOTI.1999.Hepatitis A is a widespread infectious disease world-wide. In Italy, shellfish consumption was shown to be a major risk factor for hepatitis A infection, especially when these products are eaten raw or slightly cooked. The aim of the present study was to evaluate Hepatitis A virus (HAV) resistance in experimentally contaminated mussels treated at different temperatures (60, 80 and 100 °C) for various times. The presence of HAV was evaluated by cell culture infection and reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction confirmation. The experiments, carried out on HAV suspension and contaminated mussel homogenate both containing about 105 50% tissue culture infectious dose ml−1, showed that, under our experimental conditions, the treatments at 60 °C for 30 min, 80 °C for 10 min and an immersion at 100 °C for 1 min were not sufficient to inactivate all the viruses; it was necessary to prolong the treatment at 100 °C for 2 min to completely inactivate the virus. Thus it is advisable to eat only cooked shellfish, paying particular attention to the times and temperatures used in the cooking process, since evidence suggests that the shellfish body may protect the virus from the heat effect.

Also, here’s the health department’s entire press conference on the source of the outbreak.

Food Safety Talk 106: Mouth spit

Food Safety Talk, a bi-weekly podcast for food safety nerds, by food safety nerds. The podcast is hosted by Ben Chapman and barfblog contributor Don Schaffner, Extension Specialist in Food Science and Professor at Rutgers University. Every two weeks or so, Ben and Don get together virtually and talk for about an hour.Unknown-4

They talk about what’s on their minds or in the news regarding food safety, and popular culture. They strive to be relevant, funny and informative — sometimes they succeed. You can download the audio recordings right from the website, or subscribe using iTunes.

Episode 106 can be found here and on iTunes.

Show notes so you can follow along at home:

Washington company linked to Listeria monocytogenes illnesses gets a warning letter

Like my RSS feed notification for MMWR, FDA’s warning letter email alerts get me all excited about the potential treasures within. Like bearded dragons. And Whole Foods condensate issues.

Most telling are the letters that come after an outbreak investigation and that state almost 18% of environmental samples tested positive for Listeria monocytigenes (whoa).

FDA posted a warning letter to the Oregon Potato Company, AKA Freeze Pack, which was connected to CRF Frozen Foods outbreak.

FDA’s laboratory analysis of environmental samples collected on March 8, 2016, and March 9, 2016, confirmed that nineteen (19) of one hundred and six (106) environmental swabs tested positive for L. monocytogenes.Oregon_potato_Company

Specifically:

– Seven (7) positive environmental swabs were collected from direct food contact surfaces in both your Processing and Packaging Rooms during the production of your IQF diced onions. These direct food contact surface areas include:

o The chiller water and the interior north wall of the water chiller. Water from this chiller is not treated and is recirculated back to the blancher/chiller and used directly on blanched diced onions as a coolant;

o A white nylon strip in the tunnel discharge chute between the IQF freezer and the finished product Packaging Room. Blanched, finished product is conveyed and comes into direct contact with the nylon strip; and

o The metal arm on your chain conveyor belt between the IQF freezer and Packaging Room where blanched, finished product is conveyed directly on this conveying system and comes into contact with the metal arm.

– The remaining twelve (12) positive environmental swabs were collected from locations in your Processing room and your Packaging Room that were in areas adjacent to food contact surfaces and non-direct food contact surfaces.

WGS analysis was conducted on the nineteen (19) L. monocytogenes isolates obtained from the FDA environmental samples collected on March 8, 2016, and March 9, 2016. The WGS phylogenetic analysis establishes that there are at least two (2) different strains of L. monocytogenes present in the facility, with one strain containing seventeen (17) isolates and the second strain containing two (2) isolates. Specifically, the WGS analysis of the strain with 17 isolates showed that the isolates are identical to each other. WGS analysis of the strain with 2 isolates showed that the isolates are identical to 8 cases of human illness dating back to 2013, and to 6 isolates from finished products. These finished products included onions (2 isolates in 2014) and green beans (3 isolates in 2015) tested by a third party laboratory, and a single isolate from white sweet corn collected and tested by the state of Ohio in 2016. Additional investigation established that at least six (6) individuals were hospitalized as a result of related L. monocytogenes associated illness.

There’s a lot of cGMP Violations noted as well including cleaning and sanitizing issues, condensation dripping over IQF production lines and lots of niches for Listeria.

An outbreak can be the horrible gift that keeps on giving

For victims, reminders of an outbreak may be daily and can include long term sequelae from foodborne pathogens like Salmonella.

Folks on the industry talk crisis, recall, restoration and recovery. The events aren’t usually managed quickly. It can take years.jellyofthemonth

According to AP, almost a decade ago ConAgra’s Peter Pan peanut butter was linked to over 600 illnesses; and the fallout continues.

After years of investigation and legal negotiations, federal prosecutors announced last year that Chicago-based ConAgra had agreed to pay $11.2 million — a sum that includes the highest fine ever in a U.S. food safety case — and plead guilty to a single misdemeanor charge of shipping adulterated food. Investigators linked peanut butter produced in Sylvester, Georgia, to 626 people sickened by salmonella before a February 2007 recall removed Peter Pan from store shelves for months.

The charge and accompanying plea deal were revealed May 20, 2015. More than 14 months later, a federal judge has yet to hold a formal plea hearing or approve the settlement.

That could soon change. U.S. District Judge W. Louis Sands has ordered a teleconference with ConAgra attorneys and prosecutors on Thursday to schedule a plea date. Prosecutors told the judge in a legal filing July 29 both sides are ready to proceed after a year spent reaching out to possible victims so they could file claims for financial restitution.

“These criminal cases resonate across the world in food safety and I’m certainly an advocate of continuing to do this,” said Bill Marler, a Seattle-based attorney who specializes in food safety and represented 2,000 clients in civil suits against ConAgra after the Peter Pan outbreak. “But I think a little more prompt justice is called for. Something that goes on for a decade doesn’t necessarily make the most sense.”

Australia has an egg problem: Adelaide Hotel InterContinental edition

There are so many egg/salmonella/Australia stories in the past few years that I spent 20 min googling to see if this was a repeat.

It’s not.

According to the Daily Mail over 40 salmonellosis cases, including 9 hospitalizations have been linked to InterContinental Adelaide.raw.eggs_

A mother of three said her and her husband started showing the telltale signs of food poisoning two days after eating the contaminated food. According to the woman, Adelaide City Council and InterContinental suspect the cause to be eggs.

A South Australian Health spokesperson said authorities were ‘aware of a localised case of food poisoning in a city hotel’.
it is understood that up to 45 could have contracted the disease, but the exact number remains unconfirmed as the hotel chain and SA Health investigate the cause of the outbreak.

‘The issue I have is they (the hotel and the council) know there are 400 people out there potentially infected with salmonella and they’re not actively notifying them,’ the mother told the newspaper.

But InterContinental Adelaide general manager Colin McCandless said it was ‘absolutely safe’ to eat at the hotel.

Saying absolutely safe means absolutely nothing. Especially to the nine who were hospitalized.

A selection of egg-related outbreaks in Australia can be found here.

7 cases of pathogenic E. coli linked to Michigan cheese maker

It’s been a bad week for cheese. Lots of salmonellosis cases were linked to a North Carolina artisanal creamery and a farmstead cheese maker in Michigan was linked to STEC illnesses. More details today from WOOD8.

The husband and wife who own Grassfields Cheese decided to recall 20,000 pounds of cheese — most of what they make in a year — and now they question if they will be able to recover.

“To those people that are sick, that weighs on me,” said Luke Meerman, owner of Grassfields Cheeses.grassfields-cheese-50b115a61d45e028a800028a

Meerman is a fifth-generation on the primarily dairy farm that has been in operation since 1882.

He and his wife, Victoria, decided 15 years ago to make organic cheeses made from the grass-fed, antibiotic-free cows raised on the family farm.

The business did not make the family rich, but it was popular online and is sold around the nation at Whole Foods.

On Monday, Meerman said he was contacted by the Michigan Department of Agriculture that cases of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli, a bacteria that can cause serious illness in humans, were reported.

Then it was confirmed as state officials tell me that seven people have been made sick — including one in Kent County — and one person was hospitalized.

Several of the people sickened by E.coli said they had eaten restaurant meals containing Grassfields cheese. State lab workers are testing additional cheese samples.

30 cases of salmonellosis linked to Sprouts Extraordinaire

According to CDC, sprouts are back at it again with the illnesses.

I don’t eat them, but if I did, I would want to know a whole lot about the seed source and who was growing them – fairly hard to do when they arrive as garnish on a salad or on a sandwich.

CDC is collaborating with public health officials in several states and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to investigate a multistate outbreak of Salmonella Reading and Salmonella Abony infections.Alfalfa-sprouts

Thirty people infected with the outbreak strains have been reported from nine states. Of those ill people, 24 were infected with Salmonella Reading, 1 was infected with Salmonella Abony, and 5 were infected with both.

Illnesses started on dates ranging from May 21, 2016 to July 20, 2016. Ill people range in age from less than 1 year to 72, with a median age of 30. Fifty-three percent of ill people are female. Five ill people have been hospitalized, and no deaths have been reported.

Epidemiologic and traceback evidence available at this time indicate that alfalfa sprouts supplied by Sprouts Extraordinaire of Denver, Colorado are the likely source of this outbreak.

In interviews, ill people answered questions about the foods they ate and other exposures in the week before they became ill. Of the 27 ill people who were interviewed, 17 (63%) reported eating or possibly eating alfalfa sprouts in the week before illness started. This proportion is significantly higher than results from a 2006 survey of healthy people, in which 3% reported eating sprouts on a sandwich in the week before they were interviewed. Ill people in the current outbreak reported eating raw alfalfa sprouts on sandwiches from several different restaurants.

Federal, state, and local health and regulatory officials performed a traceback investigation from five restaurants where ill people reported eating alfalfa sprouts. This investigation indicated that Sprouts Extraordinaire supplied alfalfa sprouts to all five of these locations.

On August 5, 2016, Sprouts Extraordinaire recalled its alfalfa sprout products from the market due to possible Salmonella contamination. These products were sold in 5-pound boxes labeled “Living Alfalfa Sprouts”.

A historical selection of sprout outbreaks can be found here.

Lawsuit filed over 2014 Salmonella outbreak

Outbreaks cost businesses a lot: loss of reputation; bad publicity; fines, and legal woes.

According to FOX 32, two separate lawsuits have been filed following a 2014 cluster of Salmonella associated with Urban Esencia Kitchen.71d3dd3d33a2a5f586a6e98c0e7089c2

Nathan Sanders and Sara Lindsay claim in one suit that they ate at Urban Esencia Kitchen on Aug. 14, 2014. The following day, they began to suffer severe stomach cramps, chills and fever; and could not eat. Both received extensive medical treatment over the next several days and Lindsay tested positive for Salmonella, according to the suit.

Hunter Lehr claims he contracted salmonella after eating at the restaurant on August 13, 2014. The next day, Lehr began to suffer severe the same symptoms and coud not eat. He was admitted to the hospital for one week and tested positive for salmonella, the suit stated.

Each 3-count suit charges the restaurant with negligence, strict liability, and breach of implied warranty; and seeks a minimum of $90,000 in damages.