Food Safety Talk 121: Seesaws and slides

Don and Ben talk I.M. Healthy’s soy nut butter-linked E. coli O157 outbreak; social responsibility and food safety; and produce washing. The guys also discuss the particulars of goalie screening and Salmonella sticking around in the environment for months. Bonus: urinals.

Episode 121 can be found here and on iTunes.

Show notes so you can follow along at home:

One dead, six hospitalised with Listeria in Australian food poisoning surge

Emily Woods of the Age reports one person has died and at least six others have been taken to hospital with listeria during a surge in food poisoning cases in the weeks before Christmas.

listeria4The tragedy is one of seven cases of listeria reported in the last three weeks, although none are believed to be linked.

Victoria’s acting chief health officer Dr Finn Romanes advised doctors and other health professionals to “educate at-risk patients” about safe food-handling and which foods to avoid.

The department was unable to reveal further details about the patient’s death.

The seven recent cases are among 25 that have been reported in Victoria so far this year. In 2015, there were 22 cases of listeria in the state. 

Victorian Health Minister Jill Hennessy said the incidents were a timely reminder for pregnant women, and other at-risk people, in the days leading up to Christmas.

“Food-borne illnesses typically increase during the summer months, when bacteria can multiply quickly. With a recent rise in listeriosis notifications it’s particularly important pregnant women take extra precautions this Christmas,” Ms Hennessy said.

“Pregnant women should remain vigilant and avoid eating salads prepared well in advance of consumption, cold seafood and cold deli meats, soft cheeses, soft-serve ice cream, dips and any unpasteurised dairy products.”

All of the other patients have since left hospital and are recovering. 

Be wary of thy service providers: Listeria in ice cream edition

Last week a restaurant operator called me about their tomato sauce. It’s apparently amazing, not the typical tomato, basil, garlic combo (or so I was told). They wanted to know how to bottle and process it so they could sell it. I stepped them through the food safety concerns with canning, told them about how to apply for a variance to the food code. And told them about another option -copackers – service providers who will take a recipe and process something.

Picking the right one, who knows how to manage food safety, matters.

Altijira Murray Products, LLC got caught up in some service provider mess and has recalled about 4000 pints of Foxy brand ice cream.

All of the recalled products were manufactured and packaged in a facility owned by a contract manufacturer, Dr. Bob’s of Upland, LLC. ucm534040

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found samples positive for Listeria monocytogenes in the contract manufacturer’s facility and in finished product of another company’s brand, leading the contract manufacturer to recall all ice cream products.

About Altijira Murray Products LLC.

We make amazing ice cream that’s just a little healthier for you. Ice Cream is not supposed to be healthy. It’s a treat, a reward, something sweet at the end of the day. We’re members of 1% For The Planet and use local, smaller manufacturers where possible to stimulate jobs and look after the environment. Our Foxy’s brand is a super premium ice cream with 20% less sugar and probiotics snuck in at the last minute – but don’t panic, you’d never know the difference.

Altijira Murray Products LLC is an extremely small business – just two people. Please leave a message on the Recall line and someone will call you back as soon as possible.

Uh huh.

 

Because serving certain foods to old folks is dumb: Listeria infections frequently reported among the EU elderly

European experts have noted an increasing trend of listeriosis since 2008, but they highlight that the number of affected people stabilised from 2014 to 2015. Infections were mostly reported in people over 64 years of age. These are some of the findings of the latest annual report by EFSA and ECDC on zoonotic diseases, which also includes the latest trends on salmonellosis, campylobacteriosis, and foodborne outbreaks in the European Union.

listeria4Listeriosis affected about 2,200 people in 2015, causing 270 deaths – the highest number ever reported in the EU. The proportion of cases in the over 64 age group steadily increased from 56% in 2008 to 64% in 2015. Additionally, in this period, the number of reported cases and their proportion has almost doubled in those over 84 years.

“It is concerning that there continues to be an increasing trend of Listeria cases which mostly occur in the elderly population. ECDC is working together with Member States to enhance surveillance for food- and waterborne diseases, starting with Listeria, as earlier detection of relevant clusters and outbreaks can help prevent further cases,” said Mike Catchpole, Chief Scientist at ECDC. “This is a public health threat that can and needs to be addressed”, he added.

Dr. Marta Hugas, Head of Biological Hazards and Contaminants at EFSA, said: “Listeria seldom exceeded the legal safety limits in ready-to-eat foods, the most common foodborne source of human infections. However, it is important that consumers follow manufacturers’ storage instructions and the guidelines given by national authorities on the consumption of foods.”

In 2015, there were 229,213 reported cases of campylobacteriosis. This disease remains the most commonly reported foodborne disease in the EU, showing an upward trend since 2008. Campylobacter is mostly found in chickens and chicken meat.

The number of cases of salmonellosis, the second most commonly reported foodborne disease in the EU, increased slightly – from 92,007 in 2014 to 94,625 in 2015. The increase observed in the past two years is partly due to improvements in surveillance and better diagnostic methods. However, the long-term trend is still declining and most Member States met their Salmonella reduction targets for poultry populations.

Salmonella is mainly found in meat (poultry) intended to be cooked before consumption.

A Tale of Three Outbreaks: ConAgra plea deal reached

A couple of weeks ago I left my cozy bubble of Raleigh and travelled to Wayne County NC for an evening talk at the Farm-City Banquet. As I was driving I thought about Doug and Gord Surgeoner’s mentorship – both instilled the importance of engaging with real people around issues and chatting over dinners.

Research and extension activities need grounding in reality.caddyshack_be_the_ball_small

The morning of the event I wasn’t entirely sure what to talk about – so I asked Schaffner for input during a podcast recording. He suggested ‘A Tale of Two Outbreaks’ – comparing Jensen Farms to PCA. Both tragic outbreaks, both resulting in criminal charges. One was due to an egregious disregard for public health. The other seemed to be a couple of folks who meant well but didn’t quite get microbiology.

Be the bug.

For the next talk I’m gonna add in ConAgra’s Peter Pan/Salmonella outbreak as part of the story.

The Associated Press reports that ConAgra pled guilty and has agreed to pay $11.2 million in fines and other fees as a result of an outbreak a decade ago.

ConAgra admitted to a single misdemeanor count of shipping adulterated food. No individuals at the leading food conglomerate faced any charges in the 2006 outbreak, which sickened at least 625 people in 47 states.

Disease detectives traced the salmonella to a plant in rural Sylvester, Georgia, that produced peanut butter for ConAgra under the Peter Pan label and the Great Value brand sold at Wal-Mart. In 2007 the company recalled all the peanut butter it had sold since 2004.

Leo Knowles, president of ConAgra Grocery Products, offered no testimony as he entered the misdemeanor plea Tuesday on behalf of the Chicago-based corporation’s subsidiary.

“It made a lot of people sick,” federal prosecutor Graham Thorpe said Tuesday as he described ConAgra’s decision to continue shipments from the Georgia plant in late 2006, before corrective actions were completed, despite lab tests that had twice detected salmonella in samples.

“The industry has taken notice of this prosecution,” Thorpe added.

Though the Justice Department called $8 million the heftiest criminal fine ever imposed in a U.S. food safety case, it represents just one-tenth of one percent of ConAgra’s current $8 billion market capitalization. The company also will pay $3.2 million in cash forfeitures to the federal government.

ConAgra said it didn’t know peanut butter was contaminated with salmonella before it was shipped. However, the plea agreement documents noted that ConAgra knew peanut butter made in Georgia had twice tested positive for salmonella in 2004. Problems weren’t all fixed by the time of the outbreak.

The judge noted that others had already received cash from ConAgra in civil settlements, which he said totaled $36 million to 6,810 people.

About 2,000 of them were represented by Bill Marler, a Seattle-based attorney who specializes in food-safety cases. He said the case shows corporations can be prosecuted even when there’s no evidence of intentional criminality. The misdemeanor charge, he said, required only that ConAgra shipped the contaminated food.

“Companies are very concerned, they’re very worried,” Marler said. “They’re very interested in knowing: How can they charge us with a crime even if we don’t mean to do it? People are paying attention to that and hopefully it’s going to drive positive food behavior.”

The folks in the food and agriculture world in Wayne County seemed to pay attention.

Maytag farms to restart blue cheese production

In Feb. 2016 Maytag Dairy Farms recalled about 900 pounds of cheese after the Iowa Dairy Products Control Bureau discovered listeria contamination during routine testing.

maytag_dairy_farms1Now, the owners of Maytag Dairy Farms said they have plans to restart production at their Newton cheese plant.

Patt Johnson of The Des Moines Register reports that while on long-term hiatus, the 75-year-old company has been “completing significant renovations and remodeling our small cheese plant in an effort to meet and exceed new regulatory requirements mandated by the federal Food Safety Modernization Act,”  said John Dannerbeck, chairman of the Maytag Dairy Farms board of directors.

“We’re very excited and very optimistic,” Dannerbeck said. “We are going to be stronger than ever.”

There’s no specific date for getting production back on track, but Dannerbeck estimated that it would be early next year.

“The silver lining to all this is that we’ve been able to do significant work to adapt to new food safety standards,” he said.

 “While we now know this was a very isolated occurrence and there was no widespread problem, we believe our decision to vastly expand the recall, though expensive and immensely complicated, was the prudent decision at the time,” the company said in a statement late last week.

Headline hype isn’t science: ‘Avocado can prevent Listeria in food’

High standards regarding Listeria monocytogenes control and consumer demands for food products without synthetic additives represent a challenge to food industry. We determined the antilisterial properties of an enriched acetogenin extract (EAE) from avocado seed, compared it to two commercial antimicrobials (one enriched in avocado acetogenins), and tested purified molecules.

avocado-pair-cob_16Acetogenin composition in pulp and seed of Hass avocado was quantified. EAE were obtained by two sequential centrifuge partition chromatography separations and molecules purified by preparative chromatography and quantified by HPLC-MS-TOF and HPLC-PDA. Avocado seed extracts which are the following two: 1) EAE and 2) the commercially available antimicrobial Avosafe®, presented similar inhibition zones and chemical profiles. Minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) values of extracts and two isolated acetogenins varied between 7.8 and 15.6 mg/L, were effective at 37 and 4 °C, and showed a bactericidal effect probably caused by increased membrane permeability and lytic effects, evidenced by flow cytometry at 10 and 100× MIC. Activity was comparable to Mirenat®. Most potent acetogenins were Persenone C (5) and A (6), and AcO-avocadenyne (1), the latter exclusively present in seed. Common features of bioactive molecules were the acetyl moiety and multiple unsaturations (2 to 3) in the aliphatic chain, some persenones also featured a trans-enone group. Seeds contained 1.6 times higher levels of acetogenins than pulp (5048.1 ± 575.5 and 3107.0 ± 207.2 mg/kg fresh weight, respectively), and total content in pulp was 199 to 398 times higher than MIC values.

Therefore, acetogenin levels potentially consumed by humans are higher than inhibitory concentrations. Results document properties of avocado seed acetogenins as natural antilisterial food additives.

Inhibitory activity of avocado seed fatty acid derivatives (acetogenins) against Listeria monocytogenes

Journal of Food Science, 21 November 2016, DOI: 10.1111/1750-3841.13553

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/1750-3841.13553/abstract

Listeria and leafy greens

Internalin A is an essential virulence gene involved in the uptake of the foodborne pathogen Listeria monocytogenes into host cells. It is intact in clinical strains and often truncated due to Premature Stop Codons (PMSCs) in isolates from processed foods and processing facilities. Less information is known about environmental isolates.

listeria4We sequenced the inlA alleles and did Multi Locus Variable Number Tandem Repeat Analysis (MLVA) on 112 L. monocytogenes isolates from a 3-year period from naturally contaminated watersheds near a leafy green growing area in Central California. The collection contained 14 serotype 1/2a, 12 serotype 1/2b, and 86 serotype 4b strains. Twenty-seven different inlA alleles were found. Twenty-three of the alleles are predicted to encode intact copies of InlA, while three contain PMSCs. Another allele has a 9-nucleotide deletion, previously described for a clinical strain, indicating that it is still functional. Intact inlA genes were found in 101 isolates, and 8 isolates contained the allele predicted to contain the 3-amino acid deletion. Both allele types were found throughout the 3-year sampling period. Three strains contained inlA alleles with PMSCs, and these were found only during the first 3 months of the study. SNP analysis of the intact alleles indicated clustering of alleles based on serotype and lineage with serotypes 1/2b and 4b (lineage I strains) clustering together, and serotype 1/2a (lineage II strains) clustering separately. The combination of serotype, MLVA types, and inlA allele types indicate that the 112 isolates reflect at least 49 different strains of L. monocytogenes. The finding that 90% of environmental L. monocytogenes isolates contain intact inlA alleles varies significantly from isolates found in processing plants.

This information is important to public health labs and growers as to the varieties of L. monocytogenes that could potentially contaminate fresh produce in the field by various means.

The majority of genotypes of the virulence gene inlA are intact among natural watershed isolates of Listeria monocytogenes from Central California Coast

PLoS ONE 11(12): e0167566. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0167566

http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0167566

 

What is the infectious dose of Listeria? Who are susceptible?

The relationship between the number of ingested Listeria monocytogenes cells in food and the likelihood of developing listeriosis is not well understood.

listeria4Data from an outbreak of listeriosis linked to milkshakes made from ice cream produced in 1 factory showed that contaminated products were distributed widely to the public without any reported cases, except for 4 cases of severe illness in persons who were highly susceptible. The ingestion of high doses of L. monocytogenes by these patients infected through milkshakes was unlikely if possible additional contamination associated with the preparation of the milkshake is ruled out.

This outbreak illustrated that the vast majority of the population did not become ill after ingesting a low level of L. monocytogenes but raises the question of listeriosis cases in highly susceptible persons after distribution of low-level contaminated products that did not support the growth of this pathogen.

Infectious dose of listeria monocytogenes on outbreak linked to ice cream, United States, 2015

Emerging Infectious Diseases, December 2016, Volume 22, Number 12, https://dx.doi.org/10.3201/eid2212.160165

http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/article/22/12/16-0165_article

Recall: Apples and goat milk may not mix

This is a little old, but I’m playing catch-up.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration advises consumers not to eat goat cheese products manufactured by Apple Tree Goat Dairy of Richfield, Penn. (Apple Tree), because the products have the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

apple-tree-goat-dairyApple Tree manufactures pasteurized and 60-day aged, semi-soft, and hard goat cheeses under the Apple Tree Goat Dairy brand. The products were sold in Pennsylvania, Washington, D.C., Maryland, Virginia, and New Jersey through Lancaster Farm Fresh Cooperative, West End Farmers Market in Alexandria, Va., Ambler (Penn.) Farmers Market, and Doylestown (Penn.) Farmers Market.

On September 12, 2016, FDA began its inspection of Apple Tree’s manufacturing facility in Richfield, PA. In addition to observing poor sanitation practices, FDA took environmental samples that identified Listeria monocytogenes in 18 environmental samples from Apple Tree’s processing, packaging, and storage areas, including food-contact surfaces such as a cheese slicer, cheese mold, tables, and plates used to hold cheese before packaging. FDA also tested Apple Tree’s goat cheese. Two of the finished goat cheeses and 18 of the environmental samples tested positive for Listeria monocytogenes.

On September 20, 2016, Apple Tree initiated a voluntary recall of the four lots of goat cheeses that PDA tested and found positive for Listeria monocytogenes. Later in September, Apple Tree expanded its recall to include all of its goat cheeses, but FDA is not aware of any public notification to consumers announcing the expanded recall. Accordingly, FDA is issuing this release and working with PDA to monitor this situation and take appropriate actions to protect consumers from Apple Tree goat cheeses that may have been exposed to or contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

Although no illnesses have been reported to date in association with Apple Tree’s goat cheeses, Listeria monocytogenes can cause a serious, potentially life-threatening infection called listeriosis.